Georgia Runoff: Warnock Challenges Loeffler to Three Debates As Republicans Turn to Negative Campaigning

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The battle for Georgia’s two Senate seats is heating up, with the race between Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock getting particularly nasty. Warnock has responded to negative campaigning by challenging Loeffler to three debates before the runoff election in January.

In the days after failing to win re-election, Loeffler unleashed an unbridled wave of attacks in a bid to defeat her opponent. At a joint event with Senator David Perdue (R), who faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in the runoff, Loeffler told a crowd of about 100 people that the two candidates were “the firewall, not just for the U.S. Senate, but for the future of our country,” Politico reported.

At the same event, Loeffler pushed to frame Warnock as a Marxist who supports the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The senator also attacked Warnock’s pastoral work and support in two separate campaign ads.

In the first, Loeffler’s campaign used a quote from a 2015 sermon Warnock delivered after a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer killed Michael Brown. She took aim at Warnock’s honoring of pastor Jeremiah Wright in 2008, CNN reported. Wright made headlines in 2003 when he gave a sermon in which he said, “God damn America.”

Loeffler’s campaign didn’t stop there. The senator’s campaign launched a website that alleged to expose the “radical record” of Warnock. The website, called “Radical Raphael,” claims to provide evidence of Warnock’s “vocal anti-Israel rhetoric, his anti-gun and pro-abortion agenda, and his well-documented history of domestic abuse allegations.”

Republicans also resurfaced Warnock’s 2002 arrest on charges of obstructing a police investigation. However, they failed to note that the charges were dropped at the request of law enforcement after investigators said Warnock was “very helpful” with the investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Warnock Responds to Loeffler’s Attacks

Warnock responded to attacks by releasing an ad mocking negative campaigning and calling on Loeffler to participate in three debates before the January 5 runoff election.

“This is an opportunity for Georgians to hear from their U.S. Senate candidates, and for Kelly Loeffler to explain why she’s voted to allow the anti-health care lawsuit to move forward even thought it could end health care coverage for 1.8 million Georgians who have a pre-existing condition, why she chose to profit off of the pandemic instead of prepare Georgia for it, and why she hasn’t taken action in months to help the Georgians impacted by this public health and economic crisis,” Terrence Clark, communications director for Warnock said in a statement sent to The North Star. “We look forward to her reply.”

Loeffler’s campaign did not respond to the debate challenge or to The North Star’s request for comment.

Warnock told CNN that he “can’t allow himself to be distracted by Kelly Loeffler.” He noted that the senator wants to veer attention away from her opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“If you don’t really have an agenda for working families, I guess you have to distract working families,” he said. “I intend to stay focused on making sure that every Georgian has access to affordable health care, that workers share in some of the profits that they’re creating and that they are able to retire with dignity.”

On Nov. 13, Loeffler revealed her healthcare proposal that would serve as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Loeffler’s Modernizing Americans’ Health Care Plan is “patient-centered” and includes proposals by the Trump administration that involve the expansion of insurance plans that are uncompliant to the Affordable Care Act, according to The Hill.

Runoff Election

Warnock and Loeffler face an uphill battle to win the coveted Senate seat. According to projections by The Associated Press, Warnock managed to win 32.9 percent of the vote on Election Day compared to Loeffler’s 25.9 percent. Candidates need to earn 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election.

The Georgia runoff elections will be held on January 5, 2021. The races will determine who wins control of the Senate. Democrats need to win both races to win effective control of the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris acting as the deciding vote.

Key Dates

November 18: Earliest day for a registrar to mail an absentee ballot for the general election runoff.

December 7: Last day to register to vote for the January 5 runoff election.

December 14: Early voting for runoff election.

January 5, 2021: Runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats.

Action Steps

Register: Georgia voters can check their voter registration, register to vote or make changes to their current registration record here. Gen Z voters who will be 18 on January 5, 2021, can also register to vote.

Learn More: Head to Warnock for Georgia and Elect Jon to learn more about the two Democratic candidates.

Volunteer and Donate: There are several great voting rights organizations that are doing critical work to register voters and get them to the polls on January 5. Be sure to check out and support: New Georgia Project, The Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Rideshare2Vote and Fair Fight.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.