Democrat Raphael Warnock brought his campaign for the U.S. Senate to Douglasville on Saturday.
Warnock, who leads in recent polls in a field of 21 for the seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler, rallied voters at the Kroger on Hospital Drive as part of his “Rev Up The Vote” tour.
Warnock is the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home and former church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We have seen an incredible and overwhelming show of support from voters all across the state, including in historically Republican-leaning areas, like Douglas County, which then cast the 60% and 54% of their ballots for Leader Abrams in 2018 and Secretary Clinton in 2016, respectively,” Warnock’s campaign told the Sentinel in an email Monday. “It’s clear that this is not the same Georgia that defeated Michelle Nunn back in 2014.”
Warnock has consolidated the Democratic vote in the special election, with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden endorsing Warnock on Tuesday. Biden joins former presidents Obama and Carter, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in supporting Warnock.
Warnock is the second candidate for the Senate seat to come through Douglasville in the past week. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins campaigned at American Legion Post 145 last Tuesday. Loffler has scheduled a meet-and-greet Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. at Metro Garage Door in Douglasville.
Warnock is expected to move on to a runoff with either Collins or Loeffler, both Republicans. To avoid a Jan. 5 runoff, one of the candidates would need to get at least 50% of the vote on Nov. 3.
The RealClear Politics average of polls of the race between Oct. 13-23 shows Warnock at 31.5%, Collins at 23% and Loeffler at 21.8%.
Warnock’s campaign said the Democrat still hopes he can win the race outright on Nov. 3.
“The polls continue to confirm what we already know — Collins and Loeffler continue to split a shrinking slice of the electorate and their divisive rhetoric is alienating everyday Georgians,” Warnock’s campaign said Monday. “While Congressman Collins and Senator Loeffler are fighting to out-Trump each other, voters across Georgia right now are looking for a leader like Warnock who prioritizes the tough questions Georgia families are asking at their kitchen tables over partisan politics. The momentous show of support our campaign has across the state coupled with record early voting turnout makes us confident that we can bring this home in November.”
In an interview with the Times-Georgian earlier this month, Warnock said this is the first time he has run for public office. He added his U.S. Senate campaign is “really a continuation of a lifelong commitment to service.”
“I feel like I’m not so much on a campaign so much as I am continuing running on advocacy, fighting for health care, which I think is a human right, fighting for the dignity of workers, ensuring voter rights and that everyone has a voice in our democracy,” he said.
Warnock said the country is at an inflection point when it comes to the debate about racial injustices this year. He was born and raised in public housing and is now running for the U.S. Senate, which he said is an indication of the “living promise” of America today.
“We saw some tragic flashpoints in the summer around George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery right here in Georgia, and I officiated the service for Rayshard Brooks,” he said. “These are tragic reminders of our unfinished business with race and the need to ensure that there is equal protection.”
On health care, he said the U.S. is the richest nation in the world and federal lawmakers can ensure all her residents have affordable coverage. He said both Loeffler and Collins believe it is “a good idea” to get rid of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic and said he would fight to expand the benefits of this act, which is sometimes called ‘Obamacare.’
“As coronavirus cases skyrocket, the inadequacy of our health care system has become painfully clear, while the gaps between rich and poor, black and white, rural and urban, grow wider every day,” a statement on his website says. “Even before the coronavirus, our state’s health care system was in a crisis compounded by the failure of Georgia’s leaders to expand Medicaid.”
His campaign said Monday “Georgia’s workers are facing higher rates of unemployment, potential loss of healthcare as a result of unemployment and evictions during a severe loss of income.”
“Warnock believes we must support working Georgians by passing more COVID-19 relief to help people get back on their feet,” the campaign said in an email about a new coronavirus stimulus package. “Congress’ most recent COVID-19 relief package did not meet the moment and left millions of Americans out. Warnock is adamant that the Senate should pass a more robust stimulus package that addresses the needs of workers, and does not incorporate loopholes that allowed big corporations to receive aid that small businesses needed.”
His campaign also focuses on economic justice, and he said that essential workers are not receiving essential wages to receive the level of benefits they deserve. He said he plans to advocate for those who want a livable wage.
Warnock is also the chairman of the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan organization that helps residents get registered to vote. He has published opinion articles on voting rights, including an Oct. 2018 piece on how voter suppression challenges democracy across the country.
“We’ve got to ensure that what we say at the end of the election cycle, ‘the people have spoken,’ that all of the people have gotten a chance to speak,” he said. “As chairman of the New Georgia Project and as a United States senator, I will ensure that we pass the Voting Rights Act which now bears the name of Congressman John Lewis and make sure voting is easier and not harder.”
Times-Georgian reporter Michael O’Hearn contributed to this report.