WOODSTOCK — Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff election is about two things, Sen. Raphael Warnock told supporters Saturday in Woodstock: competency and character.
Warnock, the Democratic senator in a bid for reelection against Republican challenger and former University of Georgia football player Herschel Walker, made a stop outside Allen Temple AME Church during his runoff bus tour.
A spokesperson for the Warnock campaign said about 300 people were in attendance at the event.
“Fundamentally, it’s about who’s ready and who’s fit to represent the 11 million people in the state of Georgia for the next six years in the United States Congress,” Warnock said. “You need somebody with competence. You need somebody with character who will actually tell you the truth.”
He urged attendees to tell family and friends to vote, saying, “tell them there’s too much on the line to stay home. tell them there’s too much at stake... and the differences between me and my opponent are too wide.”
Georgia’s runoff election could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
The Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor criticized his opponent, who he said had been dishonest about his credentials, claims to have worked with law enforcement and that he graduated from the University of Georgia.
“Herschel Walker said he was a police officer, said he’s in law enforcement. He’s not. And when we confronted him about it, he literally wore his lie as a badge of honor,” Warnock said, referring to Walker displaying an honorary sheriff’s badge at a televised debate.
The senator touted his record, including sponsoring legislation to cap the costs of insulin for Medicare patients.
Warnock told supporters he has a history of working across the aisle with Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who was in Canton nine days before to stump for Walker. Warnock pointed to the infrastructure bill, the PACT Act for veterans, and bills on gun control, maternal mortality, agriculture and making railway crossings safer as results of his bipartisan work.
The senator also acknowledged that he was visiting a county that historically has voted solidly Republican — while Warnock led Walker statewide with 49.44% of the vote, in Cherokee, Walker had 67.55% of the vote, according to results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.
“I know where I am. And I came here on purpose. Because the United States senator represents the whole state,” he said. “I love all of Georgia, and I’m proud to represent Georgia. And I’ll tell you something else: I actually live in Georgia. Georgia’s on my mind.”
Amy Powers from Woodstock, said Warnock’s speech was “inspirational.”
“I’ve fallen in love with his passion,” she said while waiting in line for a photo with the senator. “The competency and the character that he has is off the chain, and there’s no question that he’s the right choice.”
Amanda Wicker said she agreed with the senator’s remarks, especially about maternal mortality, saying Georgia and the U.S.’s rates are “unconscionable” and “we owe it to our women and children to do better.”
“This is an excellent turnout in cold weather, the weekend before Thanksgiving, to turn out and see the senator,” she said. “Just that he would come to the cities here in Cherokee County. It’s such a reliably red county, but we are making strides to turn this county more purple.”
Across the street, about 20 people were gathered, many of them with pro-Walker and pro-GOP signs, and other signs with messages critical of the senator. A truck was also parked nearby with images, paid for by the Walker campaign, showing photos of Warnock with messages such as, “How many people did you evict today?”.
Among the people waving Walker signs was John Wallace, who said he wants to remind the senator that Cherokee votes mostly Republican. He was also critical of Warnock’s pro-choice stance on abortion.
“We vote 72% Republican in Cherokee County. That’s the message I want to send to him,” he said, “I’ve never met a minister that believed in abortion up until delivery. So I just wanted to tell him it’s not Fulton County, this is Cherokee County.”