In first runoff ad, Senate Republicans slam ‘great actor’ Warnock

The campaign arm of the Senate Republicans debuted its first TV ad of the runoff cycle, telegraphing a strategy to assail U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock with a mix of attacks from the general election along with a swipe that was deployed against Stacey Abrams.

The 30-second spot that aired Thursday from the National Republican Senatorial Committee brings up familiar themes against Warnock, including linking the Democrat with President Joe Biden.

“Warnock is a great actor,” the narrator says. “He just doesn’t act like your senator. Spending, taxes, energy – you name it. Warnock votes with Joe Biden 96% of the time. And that act is getting old.”

It also represents one of the first TV attacks that paint the Democrat as a celebrity, with the narrator saying “Warnock belongs in Hollywood not Washington” as images of the senator’s own TV spots play.

The ads are designed to boost GOP nominee Herschel Walker, a former football player, in a race that could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Gov. Brian Kemp and his allies framed Abrams as “Celebrity Stacey” with attacks that helped bring down her favorability ratings. Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker often describes Warnock as a “Marxist” and rubber-stamp for Biden but hasn’t played up the Hollywood line.

The mention of “great actor” also invokes another favorite angle of attack for Republicans. In March 2020, Warnock’s then-wife described him as a “great actor” in police footage of a dispute in which she claimed he ran over her foot.

Warnock wasn’t charged with a crime, and medical officials didn’t find visible signs of injury to the foot. Warnock told the AJC the allegations “didn’t happen.” The bodycam footage of the dispute has been used by other GOP groups in ads for weeks.

The NRSC’s ad is among the first in a wave of new paid advertising that will dominate the airwaves and digital media in the runup to the Dec. 6 runoff.