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Warnock and Walker Headed for a Runoff

Plus, a look at the midterm election results for other races and down-ballot measures.

Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (left) is battling to retain his seat against Republican challenger Herschel Walker. (Associated Press)

The U.S. Senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker is headed into overtime.

Warnock had 49.41% of votes cast to Walker’s 48.52%, with Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver picking up 2.07%. 

A runoff race in December will take place on Dec. 6 since none of the candidates secured the 50% plus one threshold needed to win their historic matchup.

Warnock struck a confident tone as he addressed his supporters during a campaign watch party early Wednesday morning.

“Whether it’s later tonight or tomorrow or four weeks from now, we will hear from the people of Georgia,” he said. “I remain as committed to this work as I have ever been. And I look forward to continuing on that journey together over the next six years.”

Walker sounded just as confident while addressing his own supporters late Tuesday night, comparing himself to fictional NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby from the Will Farrell movie “Talladega Nights.”

“I don’t come to lose,” Walker said. “If some of you have to go home, you can wake up tomorrow morning and see that the new senator for the great state of Georgia is Herschel Walker.”

Secretary of State

Democratic challenger Bee Nguyen conceded defeat late Tuesday night to GOP incumbent Brad Raffensperger in the rivals’ secretary of state race.

“Just called @GaSecofState to concede & congratulate him on winning his 2nd term, Nguyen said in a tweet. “The past years haven’t been easy in Georgia — I’m grateful to be in [a] race where we can have a phone call & wish each other well. Thank you to the voters in the state of Georgia. You inspire me.”

Raffensperger received a 53.57% share of votes cast to Nguyen’s 43.68%, with 89.94% of precincts reporting, according to the secretary of state’s website. Libertarian Ted Metz came in a distant third with 2.75% of votes.

Protecting voting rights has been one of Black voters’ top concerns in Georgia ever since the Republican-led state legislature passed SB 202. Critics have argued that the controversial measure, also known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, was designed to reduce Black voter turnout.

Nguyen told Capital B Atlanta earlier this year that if she was elected, she would invest in Georgia’s local election boards to ensure they could “run free, fair, and efficient elections.”

Lieutenant Governor

Republican Burt Jones defeated Democrat Charlie Bailey in their lieutenant governor matchup.

Jones gained 51.42% of votes cast to Bailey’s 46.4%, with 100% of precincts reporting, according to the secretary of state’s office. Libertarian Ryan Graham received 2.18% of votes. Bailey is a former prosecutor who received Abrams’ endorsement during primary season.

Labor Commissioner

Republican state Sen. Bruce Thompson beat Democratic lawmaker and attorney William Boddie Jr. in their labor commissioner matchup.

Boddie received 45.3% of votes cast in the race, with 100% of precincts reporting. Thompson gained 52.11% of votes. Libertarian Emily Anderson earned 2.59% of votes.

Thompson will take over as head of a Department of Labor that was embroiled in an anti-Black unemployment insurance scandal during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning more than two years ago.

Current Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced his retirement earlier this year after leading the DOL for more than a decade. 

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner

GOP incumbent John King was beating Democratic challenger Janice Laws Robinson in their general election matchup late Tuesday night.

King received 54.13% of votes cast as with 100% of precincts reporting, according to the secretary of state’s office. Laws Robinson received 45.87%.

Laws Robinson was vying to be the first Black woman ever to serve as Georgia’s insurance and safety fire commissioner.

Agriculture Commissioner

Licensed Realtor Nakita Hemingway lost to state Sen. Tyler Harper.

Hemingway gained 44.81% of votes cast, with 100% of precincts reporting. Her Republican rival received 53% of votes. Libertarian David Raudabaugh received 2.19% of votes.

Lack of access to healthy and affordable food is a major problem for low-income Black communities in Georgia that Hemingway wants to help solve.

Metro Atlanta had the eighth-largest share nationally of people living in food deserts last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

State School Superintendent

GOP incumbent state School Superintendent Richard Woods defeated Democratic challenger Alisha Thomas Searcy.

Woods gained 54.22% of votes cast, with 100% of precincts reporting. Thomas Searcy received 45.78% of votes cast.

Down-Ballot Measures

Atlanta residents passed a ballot initiative to expand the hours during which grocery stores, package stores, and wine shops can sell alcohol on Sundays.

With 100% of precincts reporting, 81.2% of city residents voted “Yes” to the proposal. Only 18.8% said “No”.

Current city law limits qualifying businesses to selling alcohol between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Sundays. That window will widen to 11 a.m. and midnight, thanks to this measure.

Elsewhere, voters in Cobb County have decided to make Mableton an official city.

Nearly 53% of voters cast their ballots in favor of making Mableton a city, with 100% of precincts reporting. Just over 47% voted against the measure.

Nearly 40% of Mableton residents are Black. The cityhood vote means the currently unincorporated area will form its own municipal government, and its residents will pay some of their taxes to the new city instead of Cobb County for select localized services.