Issued on: 07/11/2022 – 12:44
Georgia is one of the key states in the Senate race. Thirty-five seats are up for grabs in the upper house of 100, currently shared 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Georgia challenger Herschel Walker leads incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock in the opinion polls. But Walker’s anti-abortion stance and his denial of climate change make his bid controversial.
Herschel Walker is a national celebrity, a former American football star with the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. He was encouraged by former president Donald Trump to run for Senator in the 8 November mid-term elections.
Walker’s campaign has been dogged by controversy. According to judical papers, in 2005 his then wife Cynthia asked for a restraining order, accusing Walker of “committing acts intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, or sexual assault.”
Local newspaper The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has revealed that Walker’s claims about his career in law enforcement were either “false or unverifiable.”
Walker claims global warming is “a hoax”.
His hard-line stance against abortion is ambivalent, since he is alleged to have fathered children outside his marriage and to have paid for the termination of pregnancies for two girlfriends.
Walker’s blunt style is in sharp contrast with that of his opponent, Raphael Warnock, a climate activist and former pastor with Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation of murdered civil rights activist Martin Luther King.
In 2020, Warnock entered politics, defeating Republican candidate Kelly Loeffer in the runoff election which secured 50 Senate seats for the Democrats – exactly the same number as the Republicans.
“It is probably one of the most important mid-term elections of my lifetime,” Keith Millner, Chairmain of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. a non-profit organization that helps African Americans to gain a better place in society, told RFI.
“Georgia historically has been a ‘red state’ voting Republican. So the race between Senator Warnock and his challenger is really important because if the Democrats lose that, then the majority in the Senate could shift to the Republican side,” he says.
In the election for governor, Stacey Abrams, a black woman who was instrumental in campaigns of former US President Barack Obama, narrowly lost the 2018 race against her current opponent, incumbent, Republican Brian Kemp.
In her book “Our Time is Now” she attacks Kemp and accuses him of preventing underprivileged people from voting – a modern twist to a story that goes back to the time when Georgia was a profoundly segregated state of the Confederation in which people of color had no rights whatsoever.
Kemp rejects the allegations and brags that under his rule the economy has grown: in one of his many campaign e-mails he writes that, thanks to his efforts, “Georgia was the first state to reopen during the Covid-19 pandemic, saving countless small businesses.”
Apart from that, Kemp, a staunch anti-abortionist, “stood up to the woke mob to prevent rogue local governments from defunding police departments” and increased “penalties for gang recruitment of minors” while promising that he will focus “on learning loss caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” increase the “educator and school counsellor workforce,” and implement “stronger school safety measures.”
Abrams, who trails in the polls, calls Kemp a “far-right extremist” who is “too dangerous for Georgia.” According to Abrams, Kemp’s extreme and unpopular agenda hurts Georgians: his “criminal carry” policy (which makes it legal for most people to carry a concealed firearm without a license) puts lives at risk. She claims that “his refusal to expand Medicaid closes hospitals and his cruel anti-abortion mandate hurts women.”
Abrams campaigns on issues like better economic, educational and social mobility, affordable housing, health care and gun safety.
“Stacey is an African-American female,” comments Millner. “It would be historical and precedent-setting to have an African-American Democratic female governor representing the state of Georgia. So it is a very important mid-term election,” he says.