Incumbent Democratic senator beats Trump-pick Herschel Walker in crucial runoff election in US state of Georgia.
Democratic US Senator Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Georgia runoff election, according to the Associated Press news agency, ensuring Democrats an outright majority in the Senate for the rest of President Joe Biden’s term.
With Warnock’s runoff victory on Tuesday, Democrats will have a 51-49 Senate majority, gaining a seat from the current 50-50 split following John Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania.
There will be divided government, however, with Republicans having narrowly flipped control of the House of Representatives.
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Warnock’s victory cements Georgia as a battleground state certain to play a prominent role in the 2024 presidential election.
Democrats have now won three Senate races in the state in the past two years and Biden carried the former Republican stronghold in the 2020 election.
Walker’s defeat is also a setback for former US President Donald Trump as he seeks the Republican nomination to run for the White House again in 2024. The former president endorsed Walker and dozens of other high-profile Republicans in this year’s midterm elections, but he ends with a mixed record in his most competitive contests.
Walker’s campaign was plagued by repeated gaffes and claims by former girlfriends that he paid for their abortions, even though he has campaigned for the procedure to be outlawed. He has denied the accusations.
Warnock highlighted those concerns in campaign appearances and a barrage of television ads that made the race the most expensive of the 2022 midterm season, with more than $400m spent.
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His victory is the third Senate win for Democrats in Georgia in the last two years, fueled by a large Black population and the diversifying Atlanta suburbs that have offset the historic dominance of conservative white voters.