There weren’t enough uncounted votes in Republican-leaning areas for GOP challenger Herschel Walker to make up his runoff election night gap with incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
That’s what led The Associated Press to call the race for Warnock late Tuesday.
The vast majority of the uncounted votes rested in Democratic strongholds, meaning that Walker wouldn’t be able to amass the votes needed to overtake the incumbent.
Voting in the runoff began just weeks after the Nov. 8 general election, when neither Warnock and Walker was able to win more than 50% of votes cast.
They were the top two finishers in that contest, but the presence of Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver — who tallied 2.1% of votes cast — prevented either from taking a majority.
Georgia law requires a runoff four weeks after the general election if no candidate gets more than 50% of the initial vote in the general election.
Twin runoff elections in Georgia in early 2021 determined the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, with Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff taking both seats. This year’s contest wasn’t as high-stakes, with Democrats securing control of the chamber last month following the victory of incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.
With Warnock’s victory, Democrats have not only secured a two-seat majority in the chamber — with less of a need for the negotiated power-sharing agreement or Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote — but now also hold a partisan edge on Senate committee leadership positions.
Walker had been seeking to become only the second Black Republican member of the U.S. Senate.
The closing weeks of the general and runoff election periods grew increasingly bitter. Walker cast Warnock — senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church — as a “hypocrite” and servile to President Joe Biden.
There were also attacks related to Walker’s past, including accusations that the football star-turned-businessman encouraged a former girlfriend to have a 2009 abortion, for which he allegedly paid. Walker, who supports a national ban on abortion, called the allegations “foolishness.”
Since their lone debate, Warnock hammered Walker for a lack of policy details and sometimes flubbing what policy he did discuss.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections. Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections