“We have earned the spotlight that we’ve had over the last couple of years. Georgia is a true battleground state,” said Jason Esteves, treasurer of the Georgia Democratic Party.
In November, Georgians reelected Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but they swung to the other side of the political spectrum in the runoff. Esteves said at times, Kemp and Warnock were running on the same record.
“[Kemp] was taking advantage of a lot of the initiatives that came down from Washington that Reverend Warnock delivered and because of that, the governor had momentum and was able to get reelected,” he said.
The race between Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker was tight, with polls showing narrow margins all the way through Election Day. Both parties poured millions into the race, though the Warnock campaign outspent Walker by $77 million.
Esteves said it’s a sign that winning in Georgia is about more than ad dollars.
“It’s our organizers on the ground canvassing, text banking, phone banking, making sure that we are getting out the diverse, multiracial coalition that we have seen winning this state time and time again,” Esteves said.
On the Republican side, political operative Kevin Madden said the loss had as much to do with Walker as it did with the political leaning of the state.
“If we take if we step back and look clinically, at Herschel Walker, as a candidate, he was a very poor candidate, he was not good on the issues. He wasn’t the best fundraiser. He didn’t have a classical background in management or even business that really made a case for why he would be a great US senator,” Madden said.
Madden said the close race wasn’t an overwhelming victory for Democrats.
“This was not a landslide. I mean, we had to go to a runoff to begin with. And then the margins were still pretty thin when the results came in last night,” he said.
In the end, Madden said in Georgia, as well as other races, Republicans failed to get candidates who focused on the issues voters cared about and instead ran candidates who focused on divisive cultural issues like election denialism.
“The lesson has to be that candidates have to get back to focusing on the issues that matter,” Madden said.