Still, he faces challenges trying to consolidate Democrats behind his bid. His chief Democratic opponent is Matt Lieberman, an Atlanta educator who is the son of former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. Some recent polls show Warnock struggling to distance himself from Lieberman, who has defied calls from party leaders to abandon the race.
Loeffler, meanwhile, is facing a formidable challenge from U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term congressman who paints himself as the authentic conservative in the race.
Those four candidates – along with another 17 lesser-known contenders – are all on the same November special election ballot. If no candidates get a majority of the vote, the two top finishers face a January runoff.
Despite the declining membership and clout of labor unions in Georgia, they remain central to Democratic politics.
The AFL-CIO’s backing on Thursday gives Warnock a network of grassroots organizers – the union boasts roughly 250,000 members and retirees in Georgia – to captain get-out-the-vote efforts.
And the union, along with other labor organizations, is an important source of financing for Democratic campaigns and liberal efforts in Georgia.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of campaign finance records showed the Democratic Party of Georgia received about $2.4 million during the 2018 election cycle from more than 60 union contributions.
In a statement, union organizers praised Warnock’s work to “tilt the playing field back to the side of real people.”
“Reverend Raphael Warnock has made it clear that he is a strong supporter of organized labor,” said Charlie Flemming, the president of the state chapter of the Georgia AFL-CIO. “And we are excited to work to elect him as the next Senator from Georgia and push back against the anti-worker agenda that threatens our nation and families.”