(NewsNation) — After neither candidate secured enough votes to win the Georgia Senate race outright, incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker will be heading into a runoff election, according to NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ.
The race between Warnock and Walker has been fraught with controversy that thrust the opponents into the national spotlight for months leading up to Election Day.
Now that the two Senate candidates are separated by less than 1%, with neither reaching the 50% threshold, voters will go back to the polls again on Dec. 6.
“We hope that the voters don’t have fatigue because this is where you can exercise your priceless franchise: the right to vote,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said while speaking to NewsNation on Wednesday.
“So, we’re going to ask everyone to come out one more time. I know that the candidates are doing that on both sides. At the end of the day, it’s up to the voters, but we’re going to make sure we have a fair and honest election,” Raffensperger said.
NewsNation reached out to both Warock and Walker’s teams, but has not received any statements.
However, last night at their watch parties, they told supporters they knew this was going to take a while and each felt confident about winning this Senate race.
Walker, who was running on an anti-abortion platform, was plagued with criticism after multiple women came forward alleging that he’d pressured them into and paid for their abortions. Walker has maintained that the women are lying and said he supports the Georgia heartbeat bill, which bans almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. On the flip side, Warnock said he supports a woman’s right to choose.
Warnock — a pastor at the renowned Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — has not been free of controversy during the campaign. He has faced accusations of trying to evict chronically homeless residents of a low-income housing complex owned by his church. Warnock has maintained that the allegations are false. When asked about personal integrity during a debate, Warnock did not directly answer multiple questions about the eviction issue.
Faith played an outsize role in the Georgia Senate race — a state where nearly 80% of adults identify as Christian — with both candidates discussing their faith on the campaign trail. The sitting senator is a pastor at the famed church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a co-pastor in the ’60s. Meanwhile, Walker regularly describes himself as a “man of faith” and has credited God for helping him overcome prior struggles with mental health.
Walker and Warnock took starkly different stands on President Joe Biden’s August executive action forgiving some federal student loan debt. Warnock said loan forgiveness would “spur entrepreneurship, homeownership, it helps kids in technical schools and vocational schools, not just four-year colleges, but we need reform.” Walker put his stance on the matter bluntly, saying student loan forgiveness was “unfair,” adding, “I did not co-sign for anyone’s loans.”
Throughout the months and weeks leading up to Election Day, polling indicated the race was a close one, with less than two points between the two opponents just days out. Warnock held a large advantage over Walker in campaign finances, with the incumbent raising $86.5 million and spending $75.9 million compared to the former football star’s $31.6 million raised and $24.2 million spent.
The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. Senate. Of the 100 Senate seats, 35 will see elections during the midterms, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority in the chamber, with a 50-50 split and Vice President Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaking vote. Democrats hold 14 seats and Republicans held 21 seats up for election in the 2022 midterms.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.