Incumbent Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) fended off his Republican opponent Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Dec. 6 Senate runoff election. Warnock garnered 1,738,212 votes (50.7%) while Walker won 1,689,315 votes (49.3%), as of Dec. 6 at 10:51 p.m.

The Senate race advanced to a runoff after no candidate received over 50% of the vote in the Nov. 8 general election. Warnock outperformed Walker by 0.9 percentage points, with the candidates receiving 49.4% and 48.5% of votes, respectively. 

Democrats maintained control of the Senate with Warnock’s win, which secured his position as the 51st Democratic senator and left Republicans with 49 seats. This slightly widened the slim Democratic majority in the Senate — before this year’s general elections, there were 50 Democratic senators and 50 Republican senators, with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaking vote.

The runoff elections were marked by record-breaking early voter turnout, with Georgia polls tallying 303,665 votes on Nov. 28, 304,953 on Nov. 29 and 352,953 on Dec. 2. Over 500 people voted at Emory University’s 1599 Clifton Road polling location from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, forming a line that wrapped around the building.

Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) encourages students to vote during a speech in the Mathematics and Science Center on Nov. 19. (Natalie Sandlow/Staff Photographer)

Warnock was first elected as senator in a special election after former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) resigned from office in December 2019 due to health concerns. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) to fill the seat until the special election. 

The special election advanced to a runoff between Loeffler and Warnock, alongside a runoff race between Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). Ossoff and Warnock’s eventual victories helped flip the Senate blue.

After being sworn into office in January 2021, Warnock made history as the first Black U.S. senator from Georgia, the first Democratic Black senator from the South and the first Democratic senator elected in Georgia in 20 years. 

While in office, Warnock co-sponsored the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which offers tax credits for solar energy production to help transition the United States away from using fossil fuels. He has also advocated for expanding Medicaid, advancing women’s reproductive rights and protecting the Affordable Care Act and the Equality Act.

Walker does not come from a political background — he is most well known for his football career, where he played on the University of Georgia’s 1980 championship team, as well as for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. However, former U.S. President Donald Trump appointed Walker as chairman of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

Several controversies marked Walker’s campaign, from urging his ex-girlfriend to get two abortions and ignoring his children to faking a law enforcement background. He has also been endorsed by multiple controversial figures, including Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and  Trump.

Throughout his campaign, Walker has supported lowering taxes, expanding security on the United States-Mexico border, increasing military spending and promoting pro-life policies.

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Editor-in-Chief | Matthew Chupack (he/him, 24C) is from Northbrook, Illinois, majoring in sociology & religion and minoring in community building & social change on a pre-law track. Outside of the Wheel, Chupack serves on the Emory College Honor Council, is vice president of Behind the Glass: Immigration Reflections, Treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society and an RA in Dobbs Hall. In his free time, he enjoys trying new restaurants around Atlanta, catching up on pop culture news and listening to country music.