MACON, Ga. (AP) — Georgia candidates sought to eke out more votes Monday, making last-day appeals in races for governor and senator after 2.5 million ballots were cast early and hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to influence voters.
With total turnout that could exceed 4.5 million by the end of Tuesday’s election, there were still voters to persuade.
The race between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will help determine which party controls a Senate now divided 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the tie-breaking vote. And incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is again trying to defeat Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in a race that has underlined their sharply contrasting philosophies of how Georgia should be governed.
“He’s pretty good at making things up and now he wants to get the rest of us to imagine with him that he is of the timber to be a United States senator,” Warnock told a Macon rally. “Herschel Walker is neither ready nor fit to represent the people of Georgia in the United States Senate.”
Warnock also attacked Walker for campaigning with Georgia Republican congressional firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene and getting endorsed by Ye — the artist formerly known as Kanye West — even as Ye made weeks of antisemitic comments in interviews and on social media.
“Herschel Walker is demonstrating to you what kind of senator he would be by the company he’s keeping,” Warnock said.
Kemp, flying around the state with six other GOP candidates for statewide office, urged voters to reject Abrams and reward his stewardship of Georgia’s economy with another four years.
“We feel like it’s the best state of the country to live, work and raise our families. And it’s that way, quite honestly, because we’ve been saying ‘No’ to Stacey Abrams,” Kemp said at Fulton County Airport in Atlanta. “We didn’t listen to her when we kept our economy going during the pandemic and were the first state to reopen.”
Abrams has targeted liberal voters with an arguments to fire Kemp and make Georgia more equitable.
Walker, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has played up culture war attacks whereas Kemp has run a more restrained campaign while casting Abrams as being insufficiently supportive of the police.
In a briefing with reporters, Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said strong early voting gives Abrams “a path to victory mathematically,” although public polls have consistently shown Abrams trailing Kemp. Groh-Wargo also raised the possibility that neither candidate would win a majority, which would require a Dec. 6 runoff under Georgia law.
“A runoff is very possible here,” Groh-Wargo said. “The range of vote difference between an outright winner runoff and a loss is actually not that big, depending on how close it is.”
That could be even more of a possibility in the Senate race. Warnock, for now, said he was focusing on winning Tuesday. “If I have to, I’ll talk about it on Wednesday,” Warnock said of a runoff.
Kemp on Monday repeated that he’s been “working hard to get the whole statewide ticket elected,” but then offered more specific reasons for Republicans to vote for Walker.
“Are you going to vote for a United States senator who’s voted with Joe Biden 96% of the time, or are you going to go and vote for somebody that’s going to focus on ending 40-year high inflation, getting better domestic energy policy, fixing the disaster at the border?”