Barack Obama to rally with Raphael Warnock ahead of Georgia Senate runoff

Former President Barack Obama will campaign for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock Dec. 1 in Atlanta as Warnock seeks a second runoff election victory in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It will be the second time the former President has campaigned for Warnock as he faces Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Dec. 6 runoff.

Warnock supporters hope Obama’s appearance will boost turnout in the runoff election as the candidates enter the home stretch of the four-week runoff, which was prompted after Warnock received a majority of votes in the November General Election, but failed to reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. 

Obama previously stumped for Warnock and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Oct. 28. Abrams lost her race to incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. During that appearance, Obama stressed the importance of the election to protect American democracy and painted Walker, a former NFL player, as a flawed candidate unqualified for office. 

The appearance announcement comes as Georgia Democrats and the Warnock campaign seek to allow early voting this Saturday. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger previously said there would be no early voting that Saturday because Georgia law prohibits voting within two days of a holiday. Saturday is two days after Thanksgiving and just one day after a state holiday formerly known as Robert E. Lee’s birthday. 

A court ruled in Democrats’ favor that state law did not prohibit early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but the state is appealing the ruling. 

Obama’s appearance is expected to help boost Black voter turnout. He’s the highest profile Democrat to rally with Warnock and is expected to draw large a large crowd. His visit will occur on the final day of early voting in Georgia.

His appearance is seen as a bigger boost for Warnock than sitting President Joe Biden. Obama left office with a 60% approval rating, while Biden, despite being the first Democrat to win Georgia in a presidential General Election since the early 90s, remains upside down in the Peach State among voters, with approval rating sitting below 40%.

Walker, meanwhile, appeared this weekend with Kemp. Kemp easily defeated Abrams, exceeding 50 percent of the vote, and is viewed as a crucial motivator for Republican turnout for Walker in the runoff. 

If Warnock wins re-election, Democrats will have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Even if he loses though, Democrats will maintain their 50/50 split and remain in control with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote, a majority won in early 2021 when Warnock was first elected.

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