ATLANTA - The U.S. Senate race in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker is heading to a runoff with neither candidate surpassing the 50% threshold.
As of noon Wednesday with 100% of percents reporting, Warnock received 49.42% of the vote wand Walker receiving 48.52% of the vote. Georgia law requires a majority to win statewide office.
Here are results for the U.S. Senate race in Georgia. Click here to return to the master results list.
Walker, a celebrity athlete turned politician, offered his supporters an optimistic view at his campaign’s election night party in suburban Atlanta.
"I don’t come to lose," Walker said during his brief remarks.
Warnock, a Baptist pastor, spoke to supporters later in the night before all precincts had reported election results. He ended his address by saying, "keep the faith and keep looking up."
"I understand that at this late hour you may be a little tired," the senator continued, "but whether it’s later tonight or tomorrow or four weeks from now, we will hear from the people of Georgia."
A runoff campaign would be a four-week blitz that, depending on the outcomes in other Senate contests, could reprise the 2020 election cycle, when two Senate runoffs in Georgia doubled as a national winner-take-all battle for Senate control. Victories from Warnock and Ossoff left the chamber divided 50-50 between the two major parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the tie-breaking vote.
A runoff would mean another month of Warnock hammering Walker, who is making his first bid for public office, as unqualified and Walker assailing Warnock as a rubber-stamp for the White House.
"Raphael Warnock votes with Joe Biden 96% of the time," Walker has told voters again and again. "He’s forgotten about the people of Georgia."
Warnock, who is also the senior minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, answers that Walker is "not ready" and "not fit" for high office. That’s an allusion to Walker’s rocky past, from allegations of violence against his ex-wife to accusations by two women Walker once dated that he encouraged and paid for their abortions despite his public opposition to abortion rights.
Amid generationally high inflation and with Biden’s popularity lagging in Georgia, Warnock wants voters to make a localized choice, not a national referendum on Democrats as a whole. Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator, Warnock pitches himself as a pragmatist who cuts deals with Republicans when they’re willing and pushes Democratic-backed cost-cutting measures when they’re not. Among the top accomplishments Warnock touts: capping the cost of insulin and other drugs for Medicare recipients.
"I’ll work with anybody to get things done for the people of Georgia," Warnock said.
Walker, meanwhile, denies that he’s ever paid for an abortion. And glossing over a cascade of other stories — documented exaggerations of his business record, academic achievements and philanthropic activities; publicly acknowledging three additional children during the campaign only after media reports on their existence — Walker touts his Christian faith and says his life is a story of "redemption."
Through the scrutiny he calls "foolishness," the Republican nominee has campaigned as a cultural and fiscal conservative. Walker, who is also Black, pledges to "bring people together" while framing Warnock as a divisive figure on matters of race and equality. Walker justifies his attack using snippets of Warnock’s sermons in which the pastor-senator discusses institutional racism.
Republicans used similar tactics against Warnock ahead of his runoff victory on Jan. 5, 2021. Warnock won that contest by about 95,000 votes out of 4.5 million cast.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.