Since early voting commenced in the Georgia runoff between Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, the corporate media has made much of the former’s funding advantage as if this is somehow unusual for an incumbent seeking reelection. Far more newsworthy are the sources of Warnock’s cash. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) shows that Warnock has received individual contributions totaling $65.2 million, of which 88.8 percent came from out-of-state donors.
Indeed, Warnock raised slightly less money from individual Georgians that did Walker. Peach State residents contributed $7.3 million to Warnock while donating $7.5 million to Walker. The senator, however, received $57.8 million from contributors who don’t live in the state he ostensibly represents — including $13.4 million from California and $6.9 million from New York. According to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research group that tracks political donations, Warnock is the top Senate recipient of contributions from outside his own state.
OpenSecrets also maintains a catalogue of out-of-state corporate entities that have contributed to Sen. Warnock’s campaign. Because corporations are prohibited by federal law from contributing directly to political candidates, this money is funneled through various committees and leadership PACs to which company employees purportedly donate money. OpenSecrets provides a list of the Top 100 corporations from which Warnock has received such contributions. The following sample contains names that most will recognize:
|Alphabet Inc (Google, etc.)||AT&T Inc|
|Apple Inc||Comcast Corp|
|IBM Corp||National Amusements Inc|
|Meta (Facebook, etc.)||Netflix Inc|
|Microsoft Corp||Walt Disney Co|
|Oracle Corp||Warner Brothers-Discovery|
The senator’s campaign advertising frequently assures his constituents, “Warnock is working for Georgia.” This assertion is particularly difficult to take seriously, however, considering that a significant number of federal agencies also appear on the Open Secrets catalogue of Warnock’s Top 100 contributors. They include the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, the U.S. Dept. of State, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Dept. of Defense, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
After reading the above, it won’t come as a surprise that Warnock was the top Senate recipient of largesse from civil servants, from whom he received $1.2 million. He also received more money than any other senator from the education lobby, which contributed $3.7 million to his campaign. In addition, he was showered with lucre from lawyers and law firms, who collectively donated $3.4 million to his war chest. He was also the top Senate beneficiary of donations from activists involved in women’s issues, who gave him $1.5 million.
Warnock’s out-of-state donors made him the U.S. Senate’s leading fundraiser this election cycle. The FEC reports that, when all funding sources are included, he raised $175.6 million. This is three times the amount Herschel Walker raised, yet the senator beat the former football star by less than 1 percent in the general election and failed to get across that all important 50 percent (plus 1) threshold. This is why Georgia’s just-reelected GOP Governor, Brian Kemp, downplayed Sen. Warnock’s funding advantage in a recent CNN interview:
Warnock’s got a lot of resources. He can do whatever he wants, but at the end of the day, I don’t think any of that stuff matters.… It matters what people think and what they’re dealing with in their everyday lives. And people are dealing with 40-year high inflation. I know that they know that the border is a disaster, and you’ve got Joe Biden saying after the November election he’s not going to change a thing. I think there’s a lot of Georgians that want things to change in Washington, D.C.
Gov. Kemp has been actively working to vitiate the effect of Warnock’s out-of-state money by campaigning with Walker on the stump and cutting campaign ads explicitly urging voters to send the former football star to Washington instead of “another rubber stamp for Joe Biden.” Moreover, according to a report by Politico, Kemp has also made his successful turnout operation available to the Senate Leadership Fund, which plans to use his extensive micro-targeting data in a $2 million phone-banking and door-knocking campaign.
Meanwhile, Warnock has been reduced to pleading with the voters who just reelected Kemp to ignore what the governor himself says about the need to send Walker to Washington. His campaign has augmented this feeble pitch with a series of rancid TV ads that repeat unsubstantiated media stories about Walker’s personal life. Normally, candidates in a runoff would focus on getting out the base, but Team Warnock is clearly worried that this won’t be enough. And early voting suggests that their anxieties may be well founded.
Typically, turnout for runoff elections is pretty anemic, but Georgia set a new record for early voting on Tuesday, pushing the total early ballot count for the Dec. 6 runoff to 833,738. The Democrats inevitably claimed this is a good omen for Warnock, but Walker’s campaign manager tweeted the following Tuesday evening: “Of counties with more than 100,000 registered voters, Hall and Forsyth counties led the way in early in-person turnout on Monday. Walker won these 2 counties in the General Election with a whopping 67% of the vote.”
This may mean that the GOP is finally catching up with the Democrats concerning the utility of early voting. The vast majority (770,745) of early votes, as of Tuesday evening, have been cast in person. This is probably a good sign for Republicans, who prefer to walk into their polling places and turn in their completed ballots with their own hands. If Walker defeats Warnock in the runoff, it will be a major defeat for the special interest groups who seek to bury the will of the voters beneath an avalanche of lawsuits and out-of-state contributions.