11/02/2018 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Churchspeaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Forbes Arena at Morehouse College, Friday, November 2, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Georgia Senate: Abortion rights group backs Warnock’s bid to unseat Loeffler

The Rev. Raphael Warnock picked up the endorsement Wednesday from one of the nation’s most prominent abortion rights groups, part of an effort to consolidate Democratic support in his bid to oust Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund said it backs Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the 21-candidate November special election to fill out the remaining two years on retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. 

Staci Fox, the head of Planned Parenthood’s Atlanta-based chapter, called Warnock a “dedicated champion” who will fight new abortion restrictions in the U.S. Senate.

“The people of Georgia are done seeing the Trump administration and the current senators try to use every trick in the book to chip away at health care access and safety net programs, and are ready for a bold leader who will fight back against these harmful policies,” she said.

Warnock is one of several Democrats competing against Loeffler, a financial executive who took office earlier this year, and several polls show entrepreneur Matt Lieberman running even or ahead of him. 

But Warnock aims to leverage support from much of the party’s establishment – as well as brutal infighting between Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, her top Republican rival – to land a spot in a likely January runoff to settle the contest. 

He has the backing of the political arm of Senate Democrats as well as high-profile Georgia figures, including 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and several state and federal elected officials. 

The endorsement is coveted by Democrats who hope to mobilize women ahead of the November election. The group has more than 100,000 members in Georgia, and many of them were infuriated by the passage of an anti-abortion law last year. 

It could also energize Republicans. Planned Parenthood is deeply polarizing for many conservatives, and both Collins and Loeffler have competed over which candidate more strongly supports abortion limits.

Warnock, who worked as a sexual health educator before joining the clergy, has long been a vocal supporter of abortion rights. Dr. Ginger Davis Floyd, a former state health official, recalled his work in college seeking to reduce teenage pregnancy and infant mortality.

“From first-hand experience, I know he is a tremendous advocate for women's health, contraceptive access, and the pro-choice movement,” she said.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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