Warnock’s rival urges national Democratic group to abandon his campaign

The Rev. Raphael Warnock.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Tarver called on a powerful Washington group to withdraw its support for his rival, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, because he was accused by his wife of running over her foot with his car during an argument.

Tarver, a former federal prosecutor, called the allegations against Warnock a “dark cloud that will hang over this Senate race” and said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee should rescind its endorsement of Warnock lest it jeopardize the party’s chances of flipping the seat.

His call comes more than a month after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's March 7 report about the incident between Warnock, the senior pastor at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, and his wife, Ouleye.

Warnock was not charged with a crime by Atlanta police, and an officer said in the report that medical officials didn’t find visible signs of injury in the foot that his wife said was struck by the vehicle.

He flatly denied the allegation that he harmed his estranged wife, and he told the AJC in an interview that “it didn’t happen.” His wife has referred questions to her lawyer, divorce attorney Randy Kessler, who said Thursday that he expects the divorce proceedings to be “finalized in the very near future.”

In a statement, DSCC spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua dismissed Tarver’s demand and said Warnock will “continue to be a champion for all Georgians in the Senate.”

Warnock said through an aide that it was “unfortunate that politicians would try to use this for their own personal gain” and that he requests privacy that “most have given his family in this matter.”

Warnock is trying to rally Democrats around his campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of the nation's most-watched political contests, and he's backed by Stacey Abrams and the DSCC, the political arm of Senate Democrats.

Tarver, who entered the race in February, has struggled to gain the same sort of traction. He ended the first quarter of the year with roughly $30,000 on hand, compared with Warnock's $1.2 million campaign bank account.

Asked whether he issued the call to help burnish his campaign, Tarver said the allegations were “too serious to be pushed to the side.”

“It’s not personal,” Tarver said, “but this election means too much to the people of Georgia and the people of the country to cost the Democratic Party a chance at winning this seat.”