Republican Kelvin King to challenge Warnock in 2022 Senate contest

President Donald Trump looks on while business owner Kelvin King joins him on stage to speak during the Black Voices for Trump Coalition Rollout in Atlanta in November 2019. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Caption
President Donald Trump looks on while business owner Kelvin King joins him on stage to speak during the Black Voices for Trump Coalition Rollout in Atlanta in November 2019. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

A Republican owner of a metro Atlanta construction company entered the race for the U.S. Senate on Monday with an attack on “cancel culture” and a pledge to run against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock as a business-minded outsider.

Kelvin King becomes one of the first in a likely wave of Republicans to challenge Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church who is up for a full six-year term in 2022 after narrowly winning a January special election runoff.

King was one of then-President Donald Trump’s most prominent Black supporters in Georgia during the 2020 election and founded a political outreach group called Speak Georgia with his wife, Janelle King, a conservative pundit and operative.

In a statement, he attacked Warnock’s “divisive far left representation” and said Georgia is ground zero for the GOP push to recapture the Senate, which flipped in January with the victories of Warnock and fellow Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff.

“Career politicians, woke corporations, and the cancel culture are all empowered while our families and small businesses are left to pay the price,” King said. “As the GOP, we have to decide right now if we are knocked down or knocked out.”

Long rumored as a potential candidate, King is aiming to take advantage of the unsettled field in the wide-open GOP contest against Warnock. He was a featured speaker at Trump’s events in Georgia in the runup to the 2020 election, including a September visit aimed at wooing Black Republican supporters.

But he may soon have plenty of company. Veteran Navy SEAL Latham Saddler, a banking executive and former White House fellow, recently filed paperwork to run.

Former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is “seriously” considering a bid, as are former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter. The circling of the wagons by Republicans around Georgia’s new election law could also lift state Attorney General Chris Carr, who has vowed to defend the overhaul in court.

And Trump has pressured University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker to run, though he has lived for years in Texas.

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