Sunday, November 20, 2022

BTRTN: For the Next Seventeen Days, Georgia Better Be on Our Minds

If just 5,000 Nevadans had shifted their votes to Adam Laxalt instead of Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrats today would today be vibrating at Def Con 23, and sending every resource, every dollar, and every volunteer to Georgia to win the Senate run-off. But with Senate control now secure and Dems trotting self-satisfied victory laps, will they relax and fail to focus on a very winnable – and immensely important – 51st seat in the Senate?


Listing on ZipRecruiter: “$174,000 salary, with opportunity for huge future revenue in lobbying, television, Public Boards. High national visibility, large staff, great benefits. Guaranteed no termination or performance review until 2028.

Woah, dude, sign me up!

Yes, United States Senators have a sweet gig. They face re-election only once every six years.

Unless, that is, you are Reverend Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Come December 6, this man will have run for the exact same job in U.S. Senate four times in the last 25 months.

There was the November, 2020 election to complete the term of Senator Johnny Isakson, who retired due to health concerns. Warnock finished first, but did not exceed 50% of the vote, triggering Georgia’s mandatory run-off election. Warnock then defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler by a thin 51%/49% margin in the January run-off. So that’s two elections in two months.

And what was Warnock’s reward for those two victories?  The right to serve in the Senate all of two years before being required to run again in November, 2022, this time for a full term. Last week, Warnock received the most votes -- but again did not reach the 50% threshold to avoid a run-off, which is now set for December 6. That’s four elections for the same Senate seat in 25 months. Billy Martin got hired and fired as Yankee manager five times by George Steinbrenner… but that was over the span of ten years.  

Georgia Senatorial elections are not for the faint of heart. The last two Warnock competed in were decided by 2% of the votes (2020) and less than 1% (2022).

Each and every time he has run, the stakes for the Democratic Party – and the country – were sky high.

And every time, he has won the most votes.

Raphael Warnock has come through for us when we needed him.

Now he needs us to come through for him.

The specific worry: once Nevada was called for the Dems, clinching control of the Senate, Democrats breathed world’s biggest sigh of relief.  The media focus shifted to the elementary school-caliber cafeteria food fight consuming the Republican Party.  Georgia? Haven’t heard a word about it except for the daily barrage of fundraising texts pleading that we send money to support Warnock in the run-off.

Could that mean that the urgency and focus needed to win the Georgia run-off on December 6 has been substantially reduced?

Dems, if Georgia isn’t on your minds, it better be… soon. Counting today, the run-off is only 17 days away. It is a crucial opportunity. It would be a tragedy to fail to seize the opportunity it represents, for so many reasons.

Consider what the future looks like if Hershel Walker wins the run-off.

For starters, a Walker win means another precise 50/50 split, and control once again comes down to Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote in her role as President of the Senate. Look ahead to 2024. This means that once again, if the Democrats lose even one seat, control of the Senate reverts to the Grim Reaper, Mitch McConnell.

A victory by Warnock gives Dems an incredibly important one-seat cushion. We could lose one 2024 race and maintain control.

More on 2024: If the outcome of the Senate races in 2024 were to produce yet another precise 50/50 split, but Ron DeSantis wins the Presidency, the Republicans would control the Senate. VP Kamala Harris currently wields the magic 51st tie-breaking vote… but that would flip to the Republican VP under DeSantis.

A victory by Warnock now gives the Dems a one seat cushion, which, if held in 2024, would mean that a Republican White House victory would not flip the Senate.

But the most worrisome headline about the battle for control of the Senate in 2024? The Democrats will face a daunting Senate map, defending incumbencies in 23 of the 33 seats, including three states that Joe Biden lost in 2020 (Ohio, West Virginia, and Montana) and seven other states Biden won by less than ten points (Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Maine). It will be a herculean task to win each and every one of these seats – but that’s what the Dems will have to do to maintain control.

But… a victory in Georgia’s run-off for Raphael Warnock on December 6 gives Democrats a sliver of breathing room in this daunting electoral environment.

Consider this unnerving fact: seven states (Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia) currently have Democratic Senators but Republican Governors. If any one of the Democratic Senators in those states is unable to complete their term for any reason, the Republican Governor will appoint a Republican to fill out the incomplete term. And – as easy as that -- the next instant, control of the Senate will flip to Republicans, and Mitch McConnell will once again be Senate Majority Leader.

Unless, of course, Raphael Warnock wins the Georgia Special election.

Or, how about this: let’s say Joe Biden is re-elected in 2024, and the House flips back to Democratic Control. With Warnock in place, we would only need one more Senate victory to neutralize Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the two Democratic Senators who openly oppose ending the filibuster. To be clear: there is no guarantee that other Democratic Senators would not emerge with their own opposition to ending the filibuster.

But with declared opponents Manchin and Sinema neutralized, it is possible to imagine eradicating the filibuster… and then making Roe v. Wade the law of the land, legislating a national ban on assault rifles, and passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights act.

Just for starters.

In today’s radically polarized society, victory in a Senate race is worth its weight gold, simply because of the six-year term. Think of it this way: a win in 2022 is essentially also a win in 2024 and 2026. A win today means you don’t have to win a seat in another state in two subsequent elections.

All of these are simple, practical reasons of hard math: the Georgia run-off is an incredible opportunity to buy some insurance.

Let’s move on to what may be the most important reason to make sure Raphael Warnock wins: Hershel Walker is unqualified for this job.

Indeed, you’d think you’d have to look long and hard to find a less qualified, more hypocritical, utterly inexperienced, and hopelessly inept candidate for the U.S. Senate than Georgia Republican Hershel Walker.

Unfortunately, however, in the modern Republican Party, it turns out that such a search is not that arduous. It was only a few years ago that Missouri’s Tod Akin advanced his theory that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy. ““If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Then there was Ray Moore, Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, who stood accused of sexually assaulting three women, two of whom were minors. And beyond Moore, there are still more.

Still and all, Hershel Walker has earned his place in the Pantheon of Republican Senatorial candidates noted for the grossest hypocrisy, deceit, ignorance, and misogyny.

There was the time he contended that his resume rivals Barack Obama’s, seeming to imply that the 1982 Heisman Trophy was equal in stature to The Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidency, editing the Harvard Law Review, a few Grammys, and Time Magazine’s Man of the Year combined. Hmmm.

There was the toy badge he waved during the Georgia Senate debate that we can only infer was offered as proof that he has the same law-enforcement credentials as the average ten-year-old trick-or-treater.

There was the explanation that global warming occurs when Georgia’s “good air decides to float over to China,” and China’s “bad air” floats back.

There was the suggestion that there was no need for further legislation on global warming because “we have enough trees.”

At a rally, Hershel Walker proudly proclaimed “Do you know we are the best country in the United States?”

There was the rambling story he told about a bull who had impregnated three cows but nonetheless gazed longingly at the three cows in an adjacent pasture. With a wink and an ever-present smile, Walker explained how the bull was unable to restrain his ancient longings and vaulted the fence… only to discover that the three distant cows were actually bulls. The moral of the story was… geezuz, who knows? But we can all agree that a parable about a desperate urge to impregnate random cows probably shouldn’t be the lead message for a man who appeared to have lost track of how many children he had fathered out of wedlock.

Sure, the tales of Hershel Walker on the campaign trail are the stuff of comedy, but the man’s utter moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy is deadly serious.

As a candidate for Senate, Walker advocated an aggressively anti-abortion stance, toeing the line of the party he represented.  During the campaign, we learned that two women were impregnated by Walker (neither his wife), both were pressured to have an abortion (one twice), a check for $700 was produced as evidence that Walker indeed paid for one abortion, and one woman had to repeatedly pursue Walker to make him pay the money for the abortion he had demanded. Hershel Walker, it turns out, is not against abortion – he simply believes in the man’s right to choose.  

Oh, but that is not all. There is more, and it is ugly. Hershel Walker’s former wife said that he threatened to kill her twice, once held a gun to her head, and once held a knife to her throat. A judge issued a protection order for her, writing – chillingly -- that Hershel Walker “represented a clear and present danger of domestic violence.'

Walker’s own conservative son howled publicly about his father’s hypocrisy. Christian Walker did not mince words: I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us. You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.”

Walker is a cinch to be nominated for BTRTN “Grahammy” Awards, named for Lindsey Graham, and honoring the most egregious examples of Republican hypocrisy in the prior year. Look for Hershel Walker to compete for the “Grand Grahammy” for speaking out frequently against “absent fathers” as his son scorches him on Twitter and Walker seems unsure just how many children he has fathered.

All in all, Hershel Walker’s campaign seems to be a tour-de-farce, the product of a truant high school class-clown bent on making a mockery of the class president election. Indeed, if there is any justification whatsoever for Hershel Walker’s candidacy, it is to be found in the questionable endorsement that Republican Senator Roman Hruska gave, once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, to Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court nominee G. Harrold Carswell:

“Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they?”

Ah, yes. Hershel Walker would indeed be a splendid representative of the deep reservoir of ignorance, hypocrisy, misogyny, deceit, arrogance, and selfishness that now permeates today's Republican Party. To Senator Hruska’s eternal question about whether the mediocre deserve representation, all we can say is that that particular cohort is already extremely well-represented in our government.

Faced with a choice of being represented by Walker or a humble, effective, hard-working, accomplished, articulate, educated, and deeply moral man of God, the great State of Georgia has been split precisely in two.

To all who want to believe that the Republican fever-boil caused by Donald Trump was somehow finally lanced in this midterm election, and that the defeat of election deniers is somehow proof that the party is on its way back to sanity, please look very closely at the tally of votes in the Senate race in the state of Georgia.

As of this writing, 1,907,272 Georgians voted for Hershel Walker for Senator, and 1,943,737 voted for incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock. The presence of an inconsequential third-party candidate prevented both Walker and Warnock from achieving the 50% required to avoid a run-off election, which will now take place on December 6.

All to say: out of 3,932,134 votes cast, a grand total of 36,465 – less than one percent – separated Warnock from Walker.

Half of Georgia’s voters apparently felt that Walker’s claimed espousal of Republican policy overrode the overwhelming evidence that no such belief system informs his personal behavior. They didn’t care that he was lying through his teeth.

Republicans in Georgia demonstrated that they do not care about a man’s character, his integrity, his truthfulness, his compassion, his sense of responsibility, his temperament, his intellect, his experience, his willingness to learn, or his wisdom.

All they want is a sock puppet who will vote the way Trump tells him to vote.

Forget, for a moment, all those partisan motives for supporting Raphael Warnock. Forget controlling the Senate.

Rather, think about the fact that in difficult times, we need smart, capable people sitting at seats of power in our government.  The world we live in today is infinitely complex, nuanced, and rapidly changing, and the stakes surrounding decisions about crises like climate change, the war in Ukraine, and the global economy rise each day. We really do need the best and the brightest focused on meeting these challenges. 

So if I found that in my own home state, I was encountering the Georgia situation in reverse, let me say emphatically: give me a brilliant, informed, thoughtful Republican over an unqualified, foolish, immature, inexperienced Democrat any day of the week.

We must do all we can do to help Senator Warnock defeat Hershel Walker because we cannot afford to have ignorant, unqualified, lightweights taking up vital space in our government.

Of course, there is one last reason that Warnock’s victory is so essential. Right this minute, the Republican Party is on the verge of an epic balkanization into three sub-parties that each have an urgent and well-defined goal:

--The Ferocious Trump Loyalists, a cult of personality that will follow Donald Trump only without any concern for the fate of the Republican Party.

--The Right-Wing Pragmatists, who only care about finding a winning candidate and would dump Trump for DeSantis in a heartbeat if DeSantis appears the better bet to win the White House.

--The Fervent Conservatives but Moderate in Temperament, who are sick of the bomb-dropping culture wars, the incitement of violence, and vilification of opponents, who may give some oxygen to Mike Pence.

Hershel Walker is the last candidate standing who was hand-picked by Donald Trump. The party was clearly disgusted with the terrible performance of Trump’s candidates in the mid-terms. Sending Trump’s final lackey candidate to resounding defeat in this last and very public race could help the Republican Party gather the resolve to leave Trump behind forever.

And, as we have written before, it is the belief of this blog that should Donald Trump succeed in returning to the White House, democracy in America will end. Yes, America is far safer if Ron DeSantis or Mike Pence – warts and all – becomes the Republican nominee for President in 2024.

If you need a final reason to do anything you can to help elect Raphael Warnock, how about this: he is a good human being, far better prepared and far richer in experience to serve as a United States Senator than Hershel Walker. He earned graduate degrees in Divinity and Philosophy from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Even now, as a Georgia Senator, he still serves as the Senior Pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the congregation once led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Warnock became active in Georgia politics while working to expand Medicaid in the state. As a Senator, he has been a reliable supporter of Joe Biden’s agenda.

Rapheal Warnock is the real deal… not some joke selected by Donald Trump based on their second-tier celebrity status, their pliable political beliefs, and their willingness to kneel before the grand orange blowhard of Mar-a-Lago.

Here’s the link to Warnock’s campaign website. Do what you can: you know the drill… send money, write postcards and texts, make calls, knock on doors and drive people to the polls if you can physically be in Georgia.

Hershel Walker deserves to lose.

Rafael Warnock deserves to win.

Let's all help make sure that everyone gets exactly what they deserve.  

For the next seventeen days, let's keep Georgia on our mind. 



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  1. Couldn't agree more that we all need to get behind Warnock. Here's a link to a phone bank.

  2. One additional element -- Georgia is a battleground, and Republicans did well in many visible races. Gov., Lt. Gov, Sec of State, AG, Commisioner of Ag, Commissioner of Ins., Commissioner of Labor, School Superintendent -- A Republican sweep.

    If Democrats want to have a narrative that they CAN win a state-wide vote, Sen. Warnock is the remaining option.


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