ATLANTA – Former President Barack Obama returned to Atlanta Thursday for the second time in a month to press Georgians to turn out and vote for Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock one more time.
Warnock is running against Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a closely fought runoff race for Georgia’s Senate seat. Though Warnock earned more votes than Walker during the general election last month, neither candidate passed the 50% threshold necessary to win outright.
Democrats have pulled out all the stops to ensure that Warnock retains his Senate seat, including bringing Obama back to Atlanta to urge Georgians to turn out.
“I know it feels like we just did this, and that’s because we did,” Obama joked with the crowd, referring to his recent appearance in Atlanta before the November general election. Back then, Obama admonished supporters not to “boo” at the mention of Walker’s name but to vote. He emphasized the same message Thursday.
The former president also touted Democratic successes in Washington over the past two years as reasons Georgians should turn out for Warnock, arguing the incumbent Democrat would continue to fight for middle-class Americans.
“Democrats took office [in 2021] … and they were eventually able to translate that into people’s lives being better in concrete ways,” Obama said, pointing to low unemployment rates despite the COVID pandemic, the 2021 infrastructure bill, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act that capped some health-care costs, and a recently passed gun safety law.
“An extra senator gives the Democrats more breathing room on important bills. It prevents one person from holding up everything,” Obama said about the stakes in next week’s runoff. “You [Georgians] have the power to determine the course of this country.”
Beyond policy, Obama reinforced Warnock’s message that the incumbent Democrat is better suited in terms of character and competence to represent Georgia. Obama tied Warnock’s work in the Senate to the career of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, a civil rights icon.
Warnock, who introduced the former president, also adopted a jocular tone with his assembled supporters.
“You must know that I want to work for you. … This is the fifth time my name has been on the ballot in less than two years for the same doggone job,” Warnock said to explosive cheers of “one more time” from the crowd.
Warnock also criticized Walker’s ethics and honesty.
“This is not about Republican and Democrat. This is not about left and right. This is about the difference between right and wrong,” Warnock said. “I believe in my soul that Georgians, Republican and Democrats … know that Georgia is better than Herschel Walker.”
Obama isn’t the only celebrity the Democrats have called upon to give Warnock a boost.
Earlier this week, rock superstars Dave Matthews Band played at an event for Warnock supporters in Cobb County. Warnock also has made it a point to visit college campuses across the state to energize the student vote.
Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have campaigned with Walker. Last month, GOP Gov. Brian Kemp shared a platform with Walker in Cobb County after keeping his distance during the general election campaign.
Georgians have turned out in record-setting numbers to vote in the nationally watched Senate runoff. The early voting period began last Saturday.
So far, more than 1 million Georgians have cast ballots during the early voting period. Tuesday is Election Day.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.