Georgia Senate Race: Walker vs. Warnock on the major issues

Georgia Senate Runoff

(NewsNation) — After turning blue for the first time in a presidential election since 1992, all eyes are once again on Georgia heading into the 2022 midterms.

“It could be the whole ballgame in terms of control of the Senate,” said Niall Stanage, the White House Columnist for The Hill.

With few competitive seats up for grabs, the outcome of Georgia’s race may determine the balance of power in the Senate moving forward.

The latest polling released Tuesday shows incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock with a slight two-point lead over his Republican challenger former football player Herschel Walker.

Here’s where the two candidates stand on the major issues.

Warnock and Walker are set to debate in Savannah on Friday, Oct. 14. You can watch NewsNation’s exclusive live coverage from 7-8 P.M. ET.

abortion

Warnock identifies as a “pro-choice pastor” and called the recent SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade “a departure from our American ideals” on his campaign website.

But unlike other Democratic candidates around the country, Warnock has not made abortion rights the center of his campaign and it remains unclear what restrictions, if any, he supports.

When asked last week whether he’d support a federal bill codifying the previous Supreme Court standard Warnock said, “I think that we’ve got to explore all options to protect this core constitutional principle.”

On the other side of the aisle, Walker has voiced support for a national abortion ban with no exceptions, including for rape or incest. Lately, Walker has been less willing to go into detail, instead saying he is pro-life.

The Republican candidate’s stance has faced increased scrutiny in recent days after The Daily Beast reported that Walker had encouraged and paid for a woman’s abortion and later fathered a child with her.

Walker has denied the allegations.

“The salience of abortion to these midterms is really interesting and something that we’re not truly going to understand until we see the results,” said Stanage.

The economy

Inflation remains the top concern for Americans nationwide, and polling suggests Georgia voters are no different.

While senator, Warnock has voted for the Biden administration’s major economic initiatives, including the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act and a sweeping bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Warnock was also an early advocate of suspending the federal gas tax when fuel prices surged to record highs earlier this year.

For his part, Walker blames the nation’s economic ills on the Biden administration. He says gas and energy prices are up as a result of “bad Democratic energy policy decisions,” and has promised to make America energy independent.

As with other hot-button issues, Walker hasn’t offered many specific policy positions. His campaign site says he will “fight for lower taxes, fewer government regulations and more free-market capitalism.”

The emphasis on the Biden administration’s failures, rather than his own solutions, has become a hallmark of Walker’s campaign. It’s a tactic Stanage says may ultimately prove to be successful.

“Dissatisfaction with the government gets challengers elected quite frequently,” said Stanage.

crime

Walker has repeatedly blamed the rise in crime on the defund police movement championed by some Democratic lawmakers. He has accused politicians of “demoralizing, defunding and undermining” law enforcement and vows to fully fund public safety officers with the staff, equipment and training they need, according to his campaign website.

The former NFL running back hasn’t offered specifics explaining how he plans to reduce crime or restore police staffing levels.

Warnock has called for an end to cash bail, specifically for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses, as reported by 11Alive. The sitting senator has voiced support for proposed legislation that would make it easier for the federal government to prosecute police misconduct cases and place limits on qualified immunity as a defense.

During his time in office, Warnock co-sponsored legislation that would provide $250 million to support smaller law enforcement agencies around the country. The bipartisan bill passed the Senate unanimously in August.

health care

Warnock is in favor of expanding Medicaid — the state-federal health insurance program for low-income people — saying that it’s key to keeping rural hospitals open.

When asked whether he supports expanding Medicaid, Walker told reporters last month that the program “has not been good” and “continues to bankrupt us.”

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Warnock voted for, promises to lower prescription drug prices in Medicare by allowing the government to negotiate with drug manufacturers. The bill also places a yearly cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients.

Walker has been critical of the spending bill but said previously he’s in favor of capping insulin prices.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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