Democrats target Obama for Georgia runoff election
By The Citizen on November 17, 2022
Georgia’s Senate runoff is three weeks away, and Democrats are hoping big names like former President Obama could help put incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) over the top against GOP candidate Herschel Walker.
While Obama has not officially announced a return to the Peach State, one source said the former president is likely to return to the campaign trail for Warnock, just as he did last month.
“If anyone can help seal the deal in a state like Georgia, it’s Obama,” one ally said. “There’s nobody on either side like him.”
During Obama’s visit, he appeared before a crowd of more than 7,000 people and spoke passionately about saving democracy.
“Democracy is not self-executing,” the former president said. “It depends on us working, nurturing, caring for it, not just on Election Day, but every day in between. It depends on us as citizens saying, ‘This matters!’ This election matters, Georgia.”
In the next few weeks, Warnock needs surrogates like Obama to help convince Democrats that it’s worth turning out even if they’ve already won the majority in the Senate.
“The hard thing about runoffs is you’re trying to replicate the enthusiasm that you had in the general election, so you have to make sure that coalition will come back out,” Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau said. “Many of those folks voted for Obama, likely twice, so having him as a surrogate is huge for Warnock.
“Given the shortened amount of time that folks have to focus on the runoff, his second appearance in Georgia might be more impactful than his first.”
Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright agreed Obama’s return can help Warnock win.
“You don’t just show up one time and think that you solve the problem,” Seawright said. “We have to keep showing up.”
Seawright predicted that an Obama visit would help to mobilize a “coalition of voters.”
Voters of color, he said, were the ones who gave Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) their 2020 Senate wins, and this year they’re the ones who pushed Warnock back to a runoff.
In the runoff, Obama could help sway undecided and independent voters, strategists say.
Still, Seawright said, while Obama’s visit can be a determining motivator, it cannot be the only factor Democrats use in this runoff.
“At this point, this election is not about convincing anyone, this election is all about turning out everyone,” Seawright said. “I think part of that is … a large and very targeted early vote operation that would make sure we set the tone about this election and its importance.”
Seawright called Georgia’s runoff “gravely important,” one that could “determine the political blood flow of the country.”
“This race, arguably, perhaps is more consequential and more important than some of the other Senate races that were on the ballot, particularly now we know in the given scenario what the chemical makeup of the House and the Senate could look like.”
Democrats currently hold the majority in the Senate with 50 seats and trail Republicans in the House, though some races have yet to be called.
Former President Trump’s announcement on Tuesday night that he will run again for the White House could also impact Georgia’s runoff, driving Republicans out to the polls to cast their ballots for Walker.
But Seawright said Trump’s announcement could also work in Democrats’ favor in Georgia.
“The fact of the matter is not only is the former president a clear, current ongoing threat to democracy as we know it because of some of his past actions, but I think the midterms have proved he’s become a liability for the Republican Party but an asset for us,” Seawright said.
“Herschel Walker has made clear where he has pledged his political allegiances, and that is with the MAGA, right-wing election-denying, insurrection-supportive extreme that have hijacked the Republican Party,” he continued. “The challenge for Herschel Walker is going be the fact that he does not have what some view as a cooling point — Brian Kemp — on the ballot to drive out a certain type of Republican turnout. So I think all those things become immediately a big part of the conversation going into Dec. 6.”
Kemp, Georgia’s Republican governor, easily won reelection last week over Democrat Stacey Abrams. He did notably better than Walker, winning 200,000 votes more than the GOP Senate candidate.