The Jolt: The Raphael Warnock vs. Herschel Walker ad wars begin.

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker (left) and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Credit: File photos

Credit: File photos

Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker (left) and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

With 100 days until Election Day, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign is undertaking a sustained ad blitz using his Republican rival Herschel Walker’s own words against him to undermine his credibility. This morning that effort entered a new phase.

As Walker travels the state on a weeklong tour focusing on public safety, Warnock launched a new TV ad blasting the Republican’s earlier claims of working in law enforcement.

“It’s Herschel Walker vs. the truth,” the ad begins, referencing details uncovered in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation that found he falsely asserted he worked with the Cobb County Police Department and went through training at the FBI Academy.

“Is Herschel Walker really ready to represent Georgia?” it closes.

The ad’s focus serves as a reminder that even though the economy is top of mind of voters in most public polls, Democrats also plan to focus on Walker’s fitness for the Senate.

Also this week, Walker released his first direct-to-camera ad attacking Warnock, saying the senator votes with President Joe Biden 96% of the time. “When Raphael Warnock votes with Biden, he’s not with Georgia.”

It’s part of his campaign’s overall strategy of trying to tie Warnock to the president, whose 36% approval rating in Georgia lags far behind Warnock’s 46% result in a head-to-head match up against Walker in the AJC’s latest poll.


LISTEN UP. It’s time for the Friday edition of the Politically Georgia podcast, when your Jolters dig into findings of this week’s AJC poll on abortion-related issues, hear Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker react to his underdog status, and answer your questions from the 24-hour Politically Georgia Podcast Hotline.

Listen, rate us and subscribe at at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.


ABRAMS’ COATTAILS. Not long ago, we told you how Stacey Abrams’ endorsements helped power a trio of candidates across the finish line in the June runoffs.

Abrams will be going for a repeat of the so-called “Stacey Sweep” in November, but the AJC poll released earlier this week indicated her coattails are so far falling short in the general election.

Like Abrams, two of the three candidates she endorsed – Charlie Bailey for lieutenant governor and Bee Nguyen for secretary of state – lag behind their Republican opponents in the poll.

But that isn’t stopping the Democrats from campaigning together.

Axios’ Emma Hurt caught up with Abrams and Bailey stumping together in North Georgia’s Rabun County, where she said several hundred Democrats turned out to see the duo in the deep red county.

Abrams slammed Republicans for passing the state’s new restrictive abortion law. And she cautioned Democrats not to lionize Nguyen’s GOP rival, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who refused Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 elections.

“Let’s be clear: Not committing treason does not make you a hero,” Abrams said.


BIG BUCKS. Stacey Abrams is known for her gigantic national fundraising hauls (about $49 million at last count), but Democratic sources in Athens reached out to let us know she’s doing well in Brian Kemp’s home territory, too.

Earlier this week the Democrat raised $52,000 at a meet-and-greet that drew 187 attendees.


FOOD FIGHT. 34N22, the Super PAC supporting Herschel Walker for Senate, has been quietly holding more grocery giveaways in rural counties across Georgia.

The latest was in tiny Preston, Ga., in Webster County west of Americus, where GOP operative Stephen Lawson posted photos of a long line of shoppers, including one with a sign printed, “Gas prices are insane. Warnock isn’t working.”

Nick Wooten with the Columbus-Ledger Enquirer also shared a photo of Lawson working the check-in table, where locals were offered a voucher and a pen to sign a poster that read, “I’m voting for Herschel.”


MEDICARE & AIR DEAL. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock said he will vote in favor of a massive climate and healthcare deal struck this week by Democratic leaders and moving quickly through Congress.

The package allows Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and looks to dramatically lower U.S. emissions with tax credits to companies and individuals for moving to greener energy sources. It is financed by a new minimum tax for multinational corporations and tax hikes on hedge fund and private equity executives, who pay a lower tax rate than most salaried workers.

News of Democrats’ plans Thursday led to stiff pushback from Republican hopeful Herschel Walker, who said the legislation is an example of Warnock voting with President Joe Biden “even if it hurts Georgia.”

“Massive tax increases will only take more money from hard-working Georgians and this new government spending will only make inflation worse and drive up prices. Raphael Warnock has done more for Joe Biden’s reckless spending plans than Georgia’s families.”


CHIPS BEATS WHIP. Democrats in the U.S. House were joined by two dozen Republicans in passing the science and innovation package that includes $52 billion to boost domestic computer chip production. The Senate approved the bill Wednesday, and now President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law quickly.

Georgia’s delegation split along party lines, with all eight GOP members opposed. Most Republicans voted against the measure to protest a separate bill Democrats negotiated alone that will address health care costs and climate change. Republicans said they were concerned that the two measures together created excessive spending that could worsen inflation.

Among those voting no was U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, who was one of the champions of earlier iterations of the chips bill and was named to the conference committee that was originally tasked with ironing out a final agreement. What passed Thursday was a scaled-back version negotiated by Senate leaders and no longer included some of the China competitiveness language Carter had championed.

While the Pooler Republican said Wednesday that he was open to backing the bill, when the vote came up, he could no longer support it.


HONORING CLELAND. The U.S. Senate has approved a proposal to name the VA medical center in Decatur for former VA Secretary and U.S. Sen. Max Cleland. It comes one day after the Senate signed off on renaming the Veterans Affairs’ administrative offices on the same campus after U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams were the main proponents of the Max Cleland VA Medical Center legislation, which passed the Senate Thursday by unanimous consent.

Both renaming proposals now head to the House for approval.



  • The House is in session, its last day before a scheduled five-week recess.
  • The Senate is out but back next week.


MAKING THE PITCH. Democratic National Committee Chairman Jamie Harrison was in Atlanta Thursday to hear state party leaders’ pitch to host the 2024 national convention in Georgia.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Georgia Democratic Party chair U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, and super-producer (and vegan ice cream aficionado) Jermaine Dupri were on hand at State Farm Arena to show Harrison and the DNC delegation what Atlanta could offer Democrats two years from now.

Our colleague J.D. Capelouto writes that the city rolled out the red carpet, from a top-to-toe tour of the arena, to lighting the airport blue for the Democratic delegation.

And he captured some of Harrison’s feedback about what Atlanta offers.

“Atlanta is a city that represents the Democratic Party’s values: diversity, inclusion and opportunity,” Harrison said. “The Democratic Party owes Georgia a whole lot.”


RED WAVE. Democrats can only hope last night’s Congressional Baseball Game was not an omen for the midterm elections, since Republicans scored a 10-0 shutout in the annual charity contest.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff was on the mound for Democrats, but the progressive pitcher could not save the day for the majority party, who are now 0-for-2 in the Biden era.


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