Nov 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Donors, campaigns steel themselves for another Georgia runoff

Photo illustration collage of Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock.

Photo illustration: Maura Losch/Axios. Photos: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

Democrats and Republicans are readying to pump hundreds of millions into Georgia over the next few weeks if control of the Senate comes down, once again, to a Georgia runoff.

Why it matters: Depending on the outcome of other races that still haven't been called, Georgia may end up being Republicans' last chance to deny Democrats a Senate majority — or Democrats' only chance to expand that majority.

Between the lines: Republican Herschel Walker performed significantly worse than Gov. Brian Kemp, who easily won reelection Tuesday while Walker failed to crack 50% of the vote.

  • Republicans turning out to vote for Kemp may have helped pull Walker's scandal-plagued campaign close to 50% — meaning he could have a harder time rallying support on his own in the runoff.
  • And if Democrats control the Senate even without Georgia, motivating Republicans to turn out for Walker could be even more challenging.

Details: Georgia runoffs won Democrats their Senate majority in 2020, but the rules will be different this time around.

  • There will be just four weeks to campaign before the Dec. 6 contest, and with Thanksgiving right in the middle of that window, there likely will only be one week of early voting.
  • New voters can't join the rolls just to vote in the runoff.

What we're watching: Former President Trump could announce a 2024 re-election campaign as soon as Nov. 14 — which both sides agree would distract from the Senate contest.

What they're saying: Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told Axios his organization started planning for a runoff days ago. They spent around $1.7 million last time, and Albright said they're aiming for a similar amount this time.

  • A Georgia-based Democratic strategist said that canvassing and door-knocking will be "a huge part of this. ... We're getting started early and often."

Walker and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott are already hitting up donors to finance what's expected to be an extremely expensive contest.

  • "It’s crucial that we raise the resources to stay on television," they wrote Wednesday in a memo obtained by the group Documented and shared with Axios.
  • They're asking donors to contribute directly to an NRSC/Walker joint fundraising account, rather than supporting independent political spenders such as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund.

By the numbers: As of mid-October, Warnock's campaign had spent more than double Walker, at nearly $83 million to Walker's nearly $32 million.

  • Millions more will flood the state over the next month.

Flashback: The twin Georgia Senate elections in 2020 became the most expensive in history, a combined half a billion dollars, according to Open Secrets.

— Lachlan Markay contributed reporting.

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