As Dems’ Hope of Keeping Senate Dims, Vulnerable Warnock Hews to the Left, Links Election Reform to Racial Politics


Even as the 2021 elections and President Joe Biden’s approval ratings make Democrats’ hope of keeping Senate control after next year seem less likely, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) has doubled down on his thoroughly leftist agenda.

In a tweet the day after Republicans swept statewide contests in the previously “blue” state of Virginia and nearly unseated Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in the even more Democratic state of New Jersey, Warnock is accusing Republicans of having “stood in the way of” voting rights. 

“You cannot remember Dr. King and dismember his social legacy at the same time,” the senator lamented on Twitter.

Warnock was referring to Senate Republicans’ filibustering of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would give the Justice Department and federal judges the right to deny states’ implementation of their election laws. The federal government used to have this prerogative concerning some states until the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in 2013.

Warnock also continues to insist that “all options must be on the table” to pass liberal voting reforms, including the elimination of the filibuster, the Senate rule requiring sixty votes to end debate on a measure and put it to a vote. 

“I am undeterred in the march to pass federal voting rights legislation this Congress,” he declared.

The “undeterred” lawmaker is not in an electorally comfortable spot. He defeated incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler by fewer than 100,000 votes out of nearly 4.5 million cast in a special election this January. And after Tuesday’s elections prompted political observers to consider the parties’ respective chances to win congressional majorities a year from now, Warnock is among those whose vulnerabilities are getting serious attention. 

In particular, the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Center for Politics has shifted its rating of Warnock’s Senate race next year from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up.” Mark Kelly and Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrats now holding Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada respectively, have also seen their contests’ ratings change from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up.” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has meanwhile seen UVA shift his race from “safe Democratic” to “likely Democratic.” 

No Republican-held seats have seen their UVA rating change in light of this week’s elections. 

“If Biden’s approval rating is in the low-to-mid 40s next year, as it is now, everything we know about political trends and history suggests that the Democrats’ tiny majorities in the House and Senate are at major risk of becoming minorities,” wrote Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman on the UVA Center for Politics website. “So it’s a good time to reevaluate our assessment of the Senate. Given the usual presidential party midterm drag, and the poor environment, our ratings [have been] just too bullish on Democrats.”

The new outlook for Senate Democrats, wrote Kondik and Coleman, means 49 seats are either Republican-held and not up for reelection or lean toward the GOP. By contrast, 47 are either Democrat-held and not up for reelection or lean toward the Democrats. UVA deems the four remaining toss-up seats. 

Along with fellow Peach-Stater Jon Ossoff, who also won his Senate seat in a close special election this winter, Warnock has compiled a voting record farther to the left than any Georgia senator in contemporary politics. Since taking office, his voting record has rarely deviated from that of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). And on every Senate vote tracked by the political-analysis website FiveThirtyEight, Warnock has voted in favor of the Biden White House’s position 100 percent of the time. 

Georgia Democrats, at least amongst themselves, have voiced their worry for Warnock’s political future. The state Democratic Party fundraising fretted in one email in late summer that CNN analysts are “saying Sen. Reverend Raphael Warnock is the MOST vulnerable Democrat up for re-election.” Another email expressed dismay that “a recent poll shows Herschel Walker, Donald Trump’s hand-picked candidate, is NECK AND NECK with Sen. Rev. Warnock!”

Internal polling released this week shows 74 percent of Georgia Republican voters are inclined to vote for Walker, a former professional football player, in a primary against other GOP contenders who have entered the race so far. 

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Bradley Vasoli is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].




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