Georgia to Elect its First Black Senator

One of the two seats up for grabs in the Georgia special senate election appears to have been won by Democrat Dr Raphael Warnock. As of time of publishing, Warnock held a 40,000-vote lead with 97% of the vote reported. He has declared victory, although his opponent has not yet conceded.

Who is Raphael Warnock?

Raphael Warnock (PhD, Columbia) is an African-American pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church where Martin Luther King Jr served as pastor for the eight years before his assassination. MLK has been a lifelong influence on Atlanta-born Warnock, who also graduated from the same college as King.

Warnock supports gay marriage and abortion rights. His campaign is endorsed by Planned Parenthood.

But he is perhaps best known for leading the public prayers at Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Ever since, Warnock has campaigned for an expansion of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He was arrested in 2014 during protests in Atlanta aimed at forcing state legislators to accept the federal act.

The prospective senator has also been actively involved in the burst of voter registration efforts led by progressives in recent years. Along these lines, he chaired the New Georgia Project and is endorsed by community groups including Fair Fight Action and Mijente. Around 40% of Georgia’s population is black or Latino. 

Warnock also overcame last minute Republican campaign attacks. A video featuring Warnock’s ex-wife, in which she claims he ran over her foot during a domestic dispute, was screened on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News just before Christmas.

What’s the Significance of the Georgia election?

The race has major significance for the United States and the world. Warnock’s is one of two senate positions to be decided in the special election. If Democrats clinch both, the party will control the lower and upper house as well as the White House, a fitting legacy for the Trump presidency.

It would be the first time one party has controlled the US Federal Government since the first seven years of the Bush Jr administration. That was, of course, a time of major US international protagonism, something which we might expect to be repeated – but along Democrat lines – if the party is successful in Georgia.