Georgia Senate race comes down to the wire

What do vampires, werewolves and Donald Trump have to do with the Walker-Warnock US Senate race?

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Georgia’s US Senate race has been one of the most closely watched of the year, as a candidate who helped split the chamber in the Democrats' favour faces off against an unlikely challenger backed by former president Donald Trump.

Democrats retained control of the US Senate after incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada secured victory in the weeks after the midterms — meaning that Tuesday's Senate run-off in Georgia between Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will not affect the chamber’s balance of power.

Perhaps this is why Mr Walker has remained absent from the campaign trail for almost a week while Mr Warnock has appeared at numerous events alongside celebrities, fellow Democrats and former president Barack Obama.

Former US president Donald Trump appears at a rally for senatorial candidate Herschel Walker in Perry, Georgia, in September. Reuters

Or maybe Republican operatives have chosen to keep the former American football star, who has a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth, out of the spotlight.

The Republican candidate has made countless policy gaffes; when asked about climate change, for example, Mr Walker did not appear to have a grasp of the issue.

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decides to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air has to move. So it moves over to our good air space. And now we got to clean that back up,” he said in July.

“What we need to do is keep having those gas-guzzling cars, because we got the good emissions under those cars. We’re doing the best thing that we can.”

Mr Walker has also been the target of a number of domestic violence allegations, lied about his education and his resume, and two women have revealed that he paid for their abortions — allegations he denies.

“Walker has proven to be a flawed candidate, suffering an embarrassing string of revelations about his personal life,” said Gerard Filitti, senior counsel at The Lawfare Project, a non-profit legal think tank and litigation fund.

“Walker’s candidacy was also strongly pushed by Donald Trump, who in recent months is increasingly losing the support he once enjoyed, at the expense of stronger candidates.

“All of this has increased the likelihood that Raphael Warnock will keep his seat in the Senate.”

Mr Walker won enough votes to force the run-off with Mr Warnock, who needed 50 per cent of the vote to win.

Even Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has distanced himself from his University of Georgia classmate. Appearing at a rally for Mr Walker in the car park of a gun store in Smyrna, an Atlanta suburb, Mr Kemp spoke more about solidarity in the party than the qualifications of Mr Walker.

“This is going to be a turnout election,” he said. “Who is more motivated? Is it them or us?”

When asked if he would vote for the former Heisman trophy winner, Mr Kemp has often dodged the question, saying that he planned to vote for all Republicans on the ticket.

“We cannot rest on our laurels, everyone,” said Mr Kemp.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan told CNN that he had waited an hour to vote early for his fellow Republican but that he left without casting a ballot.

Musician Dave Matthews, seen here with Senator Raphael Warnock, has a vested interest in Georgia politics. Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Warnock camp’s strategy has been to campaign tirelessly — and do so alongside big names.

Mr Warnock hosted an event with musician Dave Matthews in Cobb County across from the Atlanta Braves stadium. The pair sat in front of a huge “VOTE” sign in leather armchairs at the Roxy Theatre for a chat.

“I get a little bit afraid of, if truth is banished from political discourse, then it is really hard to go in the right direction,” the Grammy-winning artist told the crowd.

Matthews also stumped earlier this year for Senate candidates John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Tim Ryan in Ohio and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina but has a vested interest in Georgia politics, as his wife Ashley Harper is from Atlanta.

“I am running not because I am in love with politics but because I am in love with change,” Mr Warnock told the packed house.

Later in the week, he appeared at a rally alongside Mr Obama, who lampooned Mr Walker over rambling comments he made about wanting to be a werewolf or a vampire.

Apropos of nothing, Mr Walker had recounted watching a movie called “Fright Night, Freak Night, or some type of night”, wherein he discovered that “a werewolf can kill a vampire”.

“Vampires are some cool people,” he told the crowd. “[But] I don’t want to be a vampire anymore. I want to be a werewolf.”

Mr Obama told the Atlanta crowd that he once had the same dilemma.

“Since the last time I was here, Mr Walker has been talking about issues of great importance to the people of Georgia, like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” the former president said.

“This is a debate that I must confess I once had with myself — when I was seven.”

Mr Walker took to Fox News in a damage control effort, saying that it was a person who did not believe in God who tried to kill a vampire with a cross in the movie.

“The whole story is the story involved people having faith, having faith and continuing to go out and do your job, having faith to get things done. So they don’t tell you the whole story,” he said.

The support of Mr Walker has many across the country scratching their heads.

Elections in the US have become nationalised and the parties are incredibly far apart ideologically such that many conservatives will vote for literally any Republican no matter what," explained Nicholas Creel, an Assistant Professor of Business Law at Georgia College and State.

Mr Creel estimates that Mr Walker "has a fairly decent chance of winning, probably north of a 30 per cent chance in my estimation, simply because he carries that party label".

"Were any generic Republican without this a baggage running the odds are they would be heavy favourites."

Regardless of which mythical creature they support, Georgian voters are turning out in droves for this election: voter turnout has broken three records, mostly in urban and suburban areas that favour Democrats.

Celebrities rally for Georgia Democrats — in pictures

Updated: December 07, 2022, 5:11 AM
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