FIRST ON FOX: Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker has hauled in $11 million in fundraising since last Wednesday, when his Senate runoff campaign with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia kicked off.
The Walker campaign shared their fundraising figures first with Fox News on Monday. Nearly $8 million of Walker’s haul came during the first two days of the runoff campaign.
Walker finished roughly 35,000 votes behind Warnock out of nearly 4 million votes cast in last week’s Senate election in the crucial southeastern battleground state. The Georgia Secretary of State Office announced Wednesday that the Senate election was headed to a runoff since no candidate received over 50% of the vote.
Under Georgia law, if no candidate tops 50% of the vote in the general election, the two top vote-getters go to a runoff, which this cycle is being held four weeks later on Dec. 6. According to unofficial returns, Warnock had 49.4% of the vote, Walker 48.5%, and Libertarian Chase Oliver 2.1%.
Warnock raised an astronomical $103 million for his 2022 re-election campaign, more than doubling the impressive $39 million hauled in by Walker. Warnock’s campaign has yet to announce any fundraising amounts the past two days as the recall campaign kicked off.
Walker on Monday launched his first TV spot in the runoff campaign.
“Herschel is one of the most genuine people that I think you’ll ever meet,” longtime friend Joseph Sumner of Dublin, Georgia, says in the commercial. “The quality and the fabric of the man is top-notch and his values have been formed in small-town Wrightsville, Georgia. And those are good values.”
Walker’s campaign tells Fox News they’re spending seven figures to run the spot statewide on TV and digital.
Warnock released a new ad over the weekend – as part of their own seven-figure buy – spotlighting what’s at stake in the runoff election. “It’s about who has the competence and character to represent us, who’s willing to tell the truth, who has the knowledge needed for the job, who will work for every corner of our state,” the narrator in the commercial says.
The spots from the two candidates are part of what’s expected to be a deluge of ads from the two campaigns, the party committees, and outside super PACs over the next three weeks.
Warnock, who is the minister at Atlanta’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, narrowly edged Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5, 2021, Senate runoff elections. His victory, coupled with now-Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff’s razor-thin win over GOP Sen. David Perdue, gave the Democrats the Senate majority.
In the runoffs two years ago, the campaigns of the four candidates, the national political parties and outside groups such as super PACs shelled out a mind-blowing half-billion dollars to run ads.
Thanks to Democrats’ victories in close contests in the swing states of Arizona and Nevada, the party will retain its Senate majority. But the runoff election in Georgia will determine if the Democrats increase their majority to 51-49, or if the Senate stays deadlocked at 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris – through her constitutional duty as president of the Senate – serving as the tie-breaking vote.
Outside groups are expected to be the biggest spenders in the runoff. The pro-Democratic outside group Georgia Honor – which is affiliated with the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC – went up with a seven-figure buy taking aim at Walker, as did the Democratic group American Bridge.
The NRA Political Victory Fund says it’s going up with a six-figure ad blitz, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee went up on the air last week with an ad backed by a low six-figure buy. The Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund is also expected to launch ads any day in the burgeoning campaign battle in Georgia.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced on Thursday a new massive $7 million field organizing investment in the Georgia runoff, which the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm said will fund direct voter contact programs, beefing up Warnock’s already “robust” field organizing efforts.
Walker, who won a Heisman Trophy and helped steer the University of Georgia to a college football national championship four decades ago, jumped into the Senate race in the summer of last year, after months of support and encouragement from former President Trump to run. It is Walker’s first run for office.
Thanks to his legendary status among many in Georgia and his immense, favorable name recognition in the Peach State, Walker was the overwhelming front-runner for the GOP Senate nomination and he basically ignored the field of lesser-known primary rivals, declining to take part in debates as he focused his campaign on Warnock. Walker ended up trouncing his rivals in the May primary, but he quickly came under fire as the general election got underway.
Walker was heavily criticized both on the campaign trail and in ads over what Democrats call his numerous “bizarre or false statements,” and also took fire over numerous reports that he overinflated the success of his businesses and academic record.
Even before he faced bombshell allegations in September and October that he had persuaded and paid for past girlfriends to have abortions – which Walker, who is a vocal opponent of abortion, has repeatedly denied – the candidate was forced to play defense regarding a number of other personal controversies, from the accusations of past abuse and threats against his first wife to acknowledging children he fathered out of wedlock, which he had not previously publicly mentioned, despite having criticized absent fathers for decades.
The NRSC is charging in their new ad that Warnock is a “great actor,” which appears to be a reference to police footage from two and a half years ago of the senator’s ex-wife describing him as a “great actor” and claiming that he had run over her foot.
While Warnock denied the allegations and was never charged by police with a crime, the bodycam footage has been used repeatedly by Republican groups to attack the Democratic senator.