Raphael Warnock reports $26.3M raised for re-election in Q3

Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s re-election campaign is reporting another massive round of fundraising in the third quarter of 2022, when the freshman Senator added $26.3 million to his campaign coffers.

The haul came through more than 340,000 donors between July 1 and Sept. 30, his campaign said. After ample spending, Warnock had $13.7 million remaining.

Official federal fundraising filings are due Oct. 15.

“There is undeniable momentum in Georgia to re-elect Rev. Warnock to the U.S. Senate, and tens of thousands of grassroots donors are helping get our campaign across the finish line,” Warnock’s campaign manager, Quentin Fulks, said in a statement.

Warnock’s Republican opponent, Hershel Walker, has not yet reported his Q3 gains. Through June 30, the retired NFL star and Donald Trump ally reported raising $20.3 million. By the end of the second quarter, he had about $6.8 million.

By then, Warnock had amassed close to $90 million since he unseated Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a runoff election Jan. 6, 2021, to become Georgia’s first Black Senator. Warnock won that contest by a 2-percentage-point margin, with more than 93,000 additional voters casting ballots for him.

This time around, Warnock faces an opponent with far greater name value and ample support from the GOP. Through the end of June, Walker’s campaign accepted $77,500 from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Conservatives Fund, according to his Federal Election Commission filings.

Warnock’s FEC filings, in turn, show contributions through June 30 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Blue Senate 2022 and Blue Senate Candidate Fund totaling $183,000, as well as a plethora of other organizational and union donations.

Both men have received hundreds of thousands of grassroots donations as well.

The pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Warnock came to prominence in Georgia politics in the mid-2010s while leading a push to expand Medicaid in the state. He later chaired the New Georgia Project, an organization founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, to boost voter registration.

He announced plans to run for federal office in January 2020 and soon emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s most formidable fundraisers, a trait he’s maintained well into 2022.

But despite his advantage as a better-funded incumbent with far less baggage than his Republican challenger, recent polling shows Walker holds just a 5-percentage-point lead over Walker a month out from Election Day.

Walker is the subject of numerous controversies, including details of his struggle with mental illness and claims by his ex-wife that he threatened to murder her. This week, the Daily Beast reported that Walker paid for his girlfriend to terminate a pregnancy in 2009 despite currently running on a strict anti-abortion agenda.

Walker called the report a “flat-out lie” and said he plans to sue the outlet.

According to FiveThrityEight, the race between Warnock and Walker is one of seven contests that could decide whether Democrats retain control of the Senate.

A poll by Emerson College conducted in late August found Walker had a 50% favorability rating compared to 47% for Warnock.

That metric changed markedly when taken to the extreme, however. Of those surveyed, 41% said they held a “very favorable” opinion of Warnock. Just 27% said the same of Walker, a University of Georgia football icon, Heisman Trophy winner, 12-season NFL player, former mixed martial arts fighter and one-time contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice.

The two men are set to debate in Savannah on Oct. 14 at an event sponsored by local TV news network Nexstar. It will mark the first time Walker will have debated a political opponent onstage. He easily won the GOP nomination May 24 with more than 68% of the vote.

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

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