Senate GOP targets Warnock over shuttered schools in opening 2022 attack

Warnock’s ex-wife calls him ‘great actor’ in police footage of dispute’s aftermath
Warnock’s ex-wife calls him ‘great actor’ in police footage of dispute’s aftermath

Seizing on a potential political opening, Republicans slammed Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and other incumbents in battleground states on Wednesday with demands they more assertively call for schools to reopen.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a digital ad questioning whether Warnock stands with “students or with D.C. Democrats and the teachers unions” over whether to keep school-age students from lagging behind during the pandemic.

“The question every Georgian should be asking is, ‘Why does our Senator fight for teachers unions instead of our kids?’” said U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the NRSC.

Democrats counter by pointing to the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus measure that includes $130 billion for local school districts.

“Republicans mismanaged the response to this pandemic and still won’t give schools and teachers the resources and support they need to reopen safely, which is exactly what Democrats are working to do while GOP senators play political games,” said Stewart Boss of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Republicans leveled the digital attack against Warnock just six weeks after he defeated U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the Jan. 5 runoffs, one half of a Democratic sweep that flipped control of the chamber. It also served as a reminder that the 2022 re-election campaign is already heating up.

It’s part of a Republican push to tap into the frustration of parents incensed about still-shuttered school buildings. National GOP groups hope to appeal to women voters skeptical that President Joe Biden can stick with his pledge to reopen many schools within 100 days.

The picture is more nuanced in Georgia, however, where many school districts have reopened for in-person learning but some, including populous DeKalb County, offer only virtual classes. Gov. Brian Kemp has urged school districts to reopen but has stopped short of seeking to force them to do so.

“Like most things in education, I’m a firm believer that the local governments know their schools better than the state government does,” Kemp has said.

The president, meanwhile, has narrowed his initial call to reopen all schools within his first 100 days in office.

At a CNN town hall Tuesday in Milwaukee, he predicted that most elementary schools would be open by the end of the first 100 days in office. But he said high schools can’t reopen over the same timeline because of a higher risk of outbreaks.

“I said open a majority of schools in K through eighth grade, because they’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be open in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home,” Biden said of his stance.

The attack ads are the first of what’s expected to be a barrage of broadsides targeting Warnock, who faces a 2022 vote for a full six-year term. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is exploring a comeback bid, and if he doesn’t run, other high-profile Republicans are weighing their options.

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