The Jolt: Abrams, Warnock to team up after questions of ticket unity

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Georgia gubernatorial Stacey Abrams will campaign together today. In the photo, they are greeting one another at a 2020 event. (File photo)

Credit: Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Georgia gubernatorial Stacey Abrams will campaign together today. In the photo, they are greeting one another at a 2020 event. (File photo)

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor, have long been close friends and political allies. Today, they’ll join forces on the trail for one of their first major campaign events together this cycle.

The afternoon event in Marietta was solidified amid reports that the two Democrats were steering separate courses. Behind in the polls, Abrams is embracing President Joe Biden and his agenda. Locked in a tighter race, Warnock is more eager to demonstrate his independence.

Though it’s not the first event they’ve attended in tandem this campaign cycle, it is the most significant one. The two are headed to the key battleground of Cobb County, once solidly Republican territory that flipped in 2016 and remains key to Democrats’ fortunes in 2022.

Questions over when and how they might campaign together were sent into overdrive Tuesday after a Warnock campaign event in Newnan, where the senator did not directly answer a reporter’s query about whether he would campaign with Abrams.

Instead, Warnock called her an “important leader” and praised her stance on voting rights and expanding Medicaid.

“We need a governor and a Legislature who would support that,” Warnock said.

Pressed anew on whether he planned to campaign with Abrams, Warnock again didn’t issue a direct response.

“I am on the trail every single day,” he said. “I think the pundits want to know who I’m campaigning for and who I’m campaigning with. I’m focused on Georgians.”

Soon after, word came down that the duo would appear together in Marietta.


HIGH ROAD. At the same Newnan event, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock was also asked whether it was fair game to bring up Republican Herschel Walker’s history of abusing women who are close to him.

“I think this election is about who’s ready to represent Georgia,” said Warnock. “And the good news is that the people of Georgia get to decide.”

Walker’s ex-wife accused him of repeatedly threatening to shoot her. Other women, including a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, have leveled similar allegations against the former football star. Walker has said the violent behavior was the result of a mental health illness, which he has said has now been treated.

On Wednesday morning, the pro-Warnock Senate Majority PAC unveiled a new ad that highlighted the violent threats. It opened with these words from a narrator:

“Herschel Walker has repeatedly threatened to kill his ex-wife. He held a razor to her throat and threatened to kill her. He’s accused of choking her until she passed out. He threatened a shoot out with police outside her home.”


LISTEN UP. The latest edition of our Politically Georgia podcast is fresh and ready for you now.

We cover the latest in the Fulton County special grand jury probe into former President Donald Trump, the busy weekend in #gapol and unity — or lack thereof — on the two major tickets.

Listen and subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher — and be sure to call us at the 24-hour Politically Georgia Podcast Hotline with your questions at (770) 810-5297. We’ll play your question and answer it on next Friday’s episode.


RUNOFF REDUX? A pair of polls released Tuesday indicate the race for U.S. Senate could be veering toward overtime.

An Emerson College poll pegged Herschel Walker with 46%, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock with 44% — and “someone else” winning 4%. The “someone else” in the race is Libertarian Chase Oliver, who could push the contest to a December runoff if neither Warnock nor Walker gets 50% + 1 vote on Election Day.

So is Walker pulling ahead of the senator? Not exactly. This poll shows him leading Warnock, but other polls showed him trailing. Emerson notes that these numbers reflect a tightening of the race, since its own April survey showed Walker with a larger lead: 49%-45%.

Along with those results, a separate Trafalgar poll also showed Walker and Warnock in a roughly even race, with neither breaking 50%.

Walker advisers say the numbers reflect their own internal polling, which shows a neck-and-neck race despite being outspent by Warnock and his allies by a wide margin.


Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, left, and Gov. Brian Kemp. (AJC Photo/Stephen B. Morton).

Credit: Stephen B. Morton / AJC

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Credit: Stephen B. Morton / AJC

THERE’S MORE. Other takeaways from the Emerson College poll:

- Gov. Brian Kemp has a 48%-44% edge over Stacey Abrams. (Kemp had a bigger lead in the Trafalgar Group poll, topping Abrams 51%-44%).

- A plurality of voters – 36% – say the economy is the most important issue facing Georgia, but it’s abortion access, the second-ranking issue that caught our eyes. Twenty percent said it is the most important issue. Those were followed by crime (15%), healthcare (9%), immigration (7%), affordable housing (5%) and education (4%).

- Joe Biden has a 42% approval rating in Georgia and a 57% disapproval rating.


Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue still has more than $4.2 million in his federal campaign account left over from his failed 2020 reelection bid, according to a recent report.  (Alyssa Pointer/

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

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Credit: Alyssa Pointer

SAVERS & SPENDERS. We’re still well away from the next Federal Election Commission filing deadline for federal campaigns to report the money they’ve raised and spent this election cycle.

But we can tell you about two recent reports from former Georgia politicos that still have people talking.

The first is from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who wrapped up his primary campaign for governor in May, but still has more than $4.2 million in his federal campaign account left over from his 2020 Senate reelection bid.

Federal law limits what Perdue can do with that cash, but one of them is to transfer it to other political candidates, campaigns or parties, with restrictions for state-level candidates. We’ve heard from plenty of federal campaigns in Georgia wondering if or when Perdue might send it their way.

He can also transfer cash to Gov. Brian Kemp’s leadership committee, which some GOP insiders say would make good on his promise to do whatever it takes to defeat Stacey Abrams in November.

One campaign that could use the infusion is the long-ago presidential run of Newt Gingrich, who made a bid for the White House in 2012.

But as Business Insider recently reported, Gingrich’s campaign still has $4.63 million in debt to unpaid campaign consultants and vendors as of its latest filing earlier this summer.

Newt 2012 had $240.78 cash on hand at the end of the last reporting period.


PAGING MR. WOOD. Fulton County prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 general election results now say they want to hear from conservative attorney L. Lin Wood, the AJC’s Tamar Hallerman and Alan Judd report.

Wood was a leading voice in Georgia during former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Wood said the Fulton County District Attorney's office is preparing to serve him with a material witness subpoena to compel his testimony before the grand jury. He said he learned of the demand on Friday through a lawyer who represents him in a State Bar of Georgia disciplinary case.

Wood said he would comply with the subpoena. He said prosecutors had not informed him that he is a target of the investigation.

“I didn't do anything wrong, I'll tell you that," he said. “I'll go down there and tell them what they want to know."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


NOTLANTA” NOT GRADUATING. As you consider candidates’ proposals on statewide education and policy, put in the front of your mind the latest data unearthed by our pal Charlie Hayslett over on his blog, Trouble in God’s Country.

Charlie specializes in examining disparities between Metro Atlanta and the rest of the state, which he calls “Notlanta.” And the disparity between the two in educational attainment is bad and getting worse.

Hayslett found that on its own, “Notlanta” would rank at the bottom of the country, between Mississippi in 49th and West Virginia at 50th on the measure.

More troubling, cities outside of Atlanta that were holding their own in terms of educational attainment in the past have tumbled in the measure.

His conclusion: “Any meaningful rural revitalization strategy will have to begin in these major regional population centers.”

You can read his full report on the blog.


Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, announced that Chandra Farley is going to become the city's next chief sustainability officer, effective Sept. 29. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

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Credit: City of Atlanta

GREEN TEAM. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced Tuesday that he’s appointed Chandra Farley as Chief Sustainability Officer and John R. Seydel III as Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer.

Farley is an environmental justice consultant and former candidate for Georgia Public Service Commission. Seydel has been the sustainability director for the city for five years and is a grandson of CNN founder and environmental champion Ted Turner.


EYES & EARS. On the topic of airtime, your Insiders want to know the length you’ll go to avoid the barrage of TV and radio ads set to blanket the airwaves in the final stretch of the race.

Email your answer and you might wind up in upcoming coverage.


SEE YOU THERE. Join us on Tuesday, Sept. 6th for an evening with the AJC at the Georgia Aquarium.

Panels of AJC journalists will talk food, sports, and of course politics. Reserve your tickets at


TALK TO US. The AJC wants to hear from Georgia voters ahead of the midterm elections about which issues you want candidates to be talking about.

It’s not a scientific survey, but we’ll use responses from Georgia readers to help guide our coverage going forward. Find the survey here.

There could even be a $100 Kroger gift card in it for you.


AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and Tell us what you like — and what we could do better.