Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) has defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in the state’s runoff election, according to multiple outlets. It marks another loss for Trump endorsees and a huge win for Democrats, who will expand their Senate majority from 50 to 51 seats.
The campaign was practically a circus. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Walker, a former NFL player who attended the University of Georgia and handily won in the primary. But reporters digging into Walker’s past revealed that he not only fathered multiple children he hadn’t acknowledged, he also allegedly paid for two women’s abortions despite the fact that, as a candidate, he supports a total abortion ban.
More disturbing reports also emerged: Three women have accused Walker of domestic abuse, including his first wife, Cindy DeAngelis Grossman, who alleged that Walker held a gun to her head and said “he was gonna blow [her] brains out.”
Then there were the strange things Walker said and did on the trail, like flashing a fake police badge during a debate, talking in stump speeches about horny bulls, bad air from China, and whether werewolves can kill vampires. (Even former President Barack Obama dunked on him for that one: “Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia—like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf. This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself. When I was 7.”)
The race went to a runoff after neither candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 8—Warnock came pretty close with 49.4 percent to Walker’s 48.5 percent, but a Libertarian candidate, Chase Oliver, earned about 2 percent, or 81,000 votes, making the feat more difficult. And though Gov. Brian Kemp (R) handily beat Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, Walker underperformed Kemp by more than 200,000 votes in November.
Democrats already secured a nominal Senate majority after Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) won reelection, clinching 50 seats. In that scenario, Vice President Kamala Harris can provide the tie-breaking vote, but Democrats have to share power on Senate committees, including the crucial Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for confirming judges. But having 51 Senators is an outright majority and means that Democrats will have full control of committees. Plus, the extra vote offers the added benefit of giving the conservative Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) less power to block important legislation.
In the longer term, keeping this Georgia seat is beneficial for when Democrats—and the Independents who caucus with them—face a brutal 2024 Senate map. Democrats will be defending 23 seats including those in red states like Ohio, Montana, and, yes, West Virginia, and in five swing states.
So, well done Georgia, you’ve helped Democrats hold the Senate—and you didn’t elect an abusive clown.