Walker, Warnock Won’t Debate for Runoff; Judge Extends Early Voting

There will be no debate in the runup to the Georgia Senate runoff on Dec. 6, with the Atlanta Press Club announcing Thursday it was canceling a debate scheduled for Nov. 21 because neither Raphael Warnock nor Herschel Walker had accepted.

“The Atlanta Press Club believes debating is an important part of any election as a way to help voters contrast where the candidates stand on issues important to them,” Ken Foskett, Atlanta Press Club board chair, said in a letter to club members.

“We are disappointed neither candidate confirmed participation in the debate,” Foskett said.

The press club said in its letter that its Loudermilk-Young Debate Series has one of the most robust programs in the country, hosting 37 debates during the 2022 primary, primary runoff, and general election for statewide and congressional races.

Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) preaches from his pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 6, 2022. (Jackson Elliott/The Epoch Times)

The two candidates had fenced and maneuvered for months before their Oct. 14 debate, each trying to portray the other as ducking him.

Walker declined to accept any of the three debates—including one sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club—proposed by Warnock, while Warnock initially refused Walker’s proposal to debate in Savannah. Warnock finally accepted it, and the two met there.

Walker put on a stronger showing than many expected him to do against the better-educated and more experienced public speaker Warnock, a minister.

So public exposure to the two will largely be limited to their rallies and TV commercials, mostly attack ads against each other.

Both campaigns have received infusions of money, and both are looking to strengthen their ground games to build a turnout upon which the close race will probably hinge.

Epoch Times Photo
Herschel Walker speaks in Gainesville, Ga. on Nov. 17, 2022, as he campaigns for the Senate runoff. (Justin Kane Photography)

Walker raised $11 million in the first few days after the Nov. 8 general election, including $3 million from the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership fund. He also is getting valuable assistance from Governor Brian Kemp. The latter built his own formidable campaign apparatus to identify likely Kemp voters with spotty voting records and get them to the polls. He has put it to work for Walker.

Warnock received $7 million from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and his campaign hired 300 new workers for an intensive door-knocking operation.

A Fulton County judge late Friday afternoon ruled in favor of Georgia’s Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that Georgia’s counties can allow early voting to begin the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26.

They sued when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who had initially okayed it, then found it conflicted with state law because it was within two days of a holiday.

A plaintiff lawyer, Uzoma Nkwonta, argued in a Friday hearing that the two-day restriction applies to general and primary elections but not specifically to runoffs.

A lawyer for the state, Charlene McGowan, told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Cox, Jr. that runoffs are considered extensions of general or primary elections and don’t have their own specific rules.

It is now up to each county to decide whether to go ahead with Saturday early voting. The runoff is the first conducted under Georgia’s 2021 election reforms, which shortened the span between the general election and runoff from nine to four weeks. Voters will generally have access to five days of early voting the week before the runoff. Cox’s decision gives them a sixth.

Dan M. Berger

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