The Georgia House of Representatives elected former Majority Leader Senator Jon Burns (R-Newington) to be Speaker of the House in its first day of session. Burns replaces Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), who became Georgia’s first woman Speaker of the House after late Speaker David Ralston died November 2022. Jones was re-elected to be Speaker Pro-Tempore on Monday.
“This is, admittedly, a very bittersweet moment,” Burns said in a speech after he took the dais. “Just a matter of weeks before today, I never would have imagined standing for this office. The passing of Speaker David Ralston has left a hole in the heart of this House.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger wants the General Assembly to end or reform general election runoffs, suggesting a lower threshold for candidates to win outright and instant runoff using ranked-choice voting that wouldn’t require voters to return to the polls.
Georgians cast 3.5 million ballots in the Senate runoff, including 1.9 million early and absentee ballots and 1.6 million votes on Election Day. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said more election day votes were cast in the runoff than on election day in the general election.
That should have equaled a win for Herschel Walker, according to Republican estimates on Monday that suggested turnout of just one million election day votes would be enough for him to cancel Senator Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) early vote lead. Instead, Warnock won 1.8 million total votes and Walker 1.7 million — 51.37 percent to 48.63 percent, according to unofficial results.
Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is projected to win by multiple media outlets; at press time, Warnock led Herschel Walker 50.81 percent to 49.19 percent with 95.6 percent of counties and precincts reporting. However, that margin is expected to widen with many of the Atlanta-area counties only partially reporting results and rural counties having largely complete their reporting.
In Georgia, a candidate can request a recount if the race margin is less than or equal to 0.5 percent, according to a state website. In a short speech after the race was called, Walker acknowledged the results and thanked his supporters, telling them to never stop dreaming and believing in America.
“There’s no excuses in life, and I’m not going to make any excuses now, because we put up one heck of a fight. And that’s what we got to do, because this is much bigger than Herschel Walker,” he said.
Strong turnout in Republican areas at the end of early voting in the Senate runoff in Georgia is giving conservatives hope that Herschel Walker can close a 200,000 vote gap Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is estimated to hold. For Walker to win, Election-Day turnout, expected to favor the Republican, needs to hit at least one million votes.
On the day of the November 2022 General Election, about 1.5 million voters turned out, according to Mack Parnell, executive director of the Georgia branch of the nonpartisan Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“Obviously, you know, it’d be a miracle to get that same 1.5 million out, so you’re probably not going to do that. So the magic number in order to make up the margin that can be ascertained for Raphael Warnock, it’s got to be at least a million voters to come out” Parnell said, noting that would give Walker and Warnock even chances.