New Warnock ad showcases his split-ticket voter runoff strategy

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Statewide runoff candidates in Georgia typically focus almost exclusively on turning out their base in overtime bouts. But U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is stepping up his appeals to split-ticket voters who sided with him and Gov. Brian Kemp in the November midterm.

In a new 30-second spot released Thursday, the Democrat features a testimonial from Lynn Whittenburg, a north Georgia voter who backed both Kemp and Warnock. She said she was “proud” to support Kemp but that she had misgivings about the former football star.

“The more I heard about Herschel Walker, I became concerned about his honesty, his hypocrisy, but also just his ability to lead. I just can’t get past Herschel Walker’s lack of character,” she said.

“The fact that he lies so freely is very concerning to me. At the end of the day, I have to vote for someone that I can trust and that has integrity, and I don’t believe that is Herschel Walker.”

Whittenburg is among about 200,000 voters who cast ballots for Kemp but withheld their support for Walker. Those split decisions were the main reason the Senate race landed in a runoff while Republicans scored victories in every other statewide race.

The biggest drop-offs occurred in some of the most fertile GOP ground: The vote-rich Atlanta suburbs and a ribbon along the northern swath of the state. And those skeptical Republican-leaning Georgians are again key to Warnock’s strategy for the Dec. 6 runoff.

While Walker is focused on revving up core conservatives, Warnock has followed his midterm strategy to highlight his work across party lines to appeal to swing voters. That approach also involves amplifying critiques of Walker’s violent history and allegations that he pressured two ex-girlfriends into getting abortions.

The Republican, who has denied the accusations, has called for a total ban on abortions even in cases of rape or incest.

Walker has swung back by tying Warnock to President Joe Biden and his dismal approval ratings. He also assails the Democrat’s ties to a troubled Atlanta apartment tower, a point he plays up with an “evict Warnock” tour.

Both rivals were forced into the four-week runoff after falling short of the majority-vote threshold needed to win outright.