While many have eyes on Senate and gubernatorial races in Arizona and Pennsylvania, Georgia has yielded two of the tighter races on election night. As of 9:30 p.m. EST, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) held a slight lead against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, and Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) held a slight lead against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. Former State Sen. Eric Johnson (R-GA) gave Straight Arrow News his impression on the early results.
“I think it’s too early to write Herschel off, but it’s looking great for Gov. Kemp,” Johnson said. “I think there’s still Republican counties to come in. And of course, they count the early votes and the absentee ballots sooner than they do the live day voting, which tends to benefit the Democratic machine early on.”
Johnson described Walker as having a “great name… and a lot of fans,” while acknowledging “there was baggage that came along with him.” When asked if Kemp’s lead is a sign that Walker may also pull ahead, Johnson noted Kemp is taking a higher percentage of the vote than Walker is in his own county.
“The Libertarians are voting three times more in the Warnock/Walker race than they are in a governor’s race,” Johnson said. “So it looks like there’s some bleed off of folks that don’t want to vote for either one and are voting Libertarian.”
Tuesday’s election came two years after Georgia delivered wins to Warnock, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and President Joe Biden. Straight Arrow News asked Johnson about the apparent Democratic shift in an historically red state and what Republicans were doing to counter it.
“We’ve got the real Hollywood of the East now, bringing the motion pictures over here. People are moving down here from up north, where they think they’re moving to a more conservative state, but they bring some of their politics with them,” Johnson said. “But the Republicans have have done well to cut into minority votes here, both in African-American and the Hispanics. Republicans had a Hispanic and two African-Americans on their statewide ticket this year. So that’s helping overcome demographic changes.”
Results are starting to come in from around the country in Georgia Senate race. About 45% of the votes have been counted. And Senator Raphael Warnock has a slight lead over Herschel Walker. Joining us now to discuss is former former Georgia State Senator Eric Johnson. Senator Johnson. Do you see Warnock maintaining his lead?
No, I think there’s still Republican counties to come in. And of course, they count the early votes and the absentee ballots sooner than they do the live day voting, which tends to benefit the Democratic machine early on. So I think it’s too early to write Herschel off, but it’s looking great for Governor Kemp.
How did this race get so tight?
Well, I think you if, if a Herschel has great name, identification and a lot of fans, but there was baggage that came, came along with him, and he’s a first time candidate running against an incumbent and a pastor and a high profile church. So that was tough and the amount of money that the Democrats have poured into a Raphael Warnock’s campaign has been stunning. As opposed to course, Governor Kemp, who was the incumbent this time, and with a great record.
Speaking of Governor Kemp, in the gubernatorial race, Brian Kemp has an edge over Stacey Abrams. Is Kemp’s popularity enough to pull Walker along to win.
Well, we’ll see. I mean, Camp camp is beating Herschel Walker in his own county of Johnson County. The libertarians are voting three times more, and the Warnock Walker race and they are in a governor’s race. So it looks like there’s some there’s some bleed off of folks that don’t want to vote for either one and are voting libertarian.
What do you think has changed about Georgia this cycle?
Well, it doesn’t help that the policies of the Biden administration have caused inflation and higher crime and open borders and, and just a bunch of issues that Georgians don’t want to vote for. Two years ago, when we had the runoff in the presidential race, Trump was the drag. This time Biden is the dragon. And while normally a midseason election isn’t nationalized, it has been this year, mostly because of democratic policies just aren’t appreciated here in Georgia.
What do you make of Democrats picking up momentum in Georgia over the last couple of cycles?
Well, if that was only, it was only going to happen. I mean, we’ve got the real Hollywood of the East now, bringing the motion pictures over here. People are moving down here from up north, where they think they’re moving to a to a more conservative state, but they bring some of their politics with them. But the Republicans have have done well to cut into minority votes here, both in African American and the Hispanics. Republicans had a Hispanic and two African Americans on their statewide ticket this year. So that’s helping overcome demographic changes.
If the Senate race goes to a runoff, will it be a situation do you think where big money is just poured into this race?
Well, we saw that two years ago with both Senators in a runoff and we lost both of them and lost control of the Senate because of it. I don’t think that’ll happen this time. Even if Herschel’s in a runoff. It looks nationally like the Republicans win the Senate. So it will be a critical race, but it may not come down to control of the Senate.
former state senator Eric Johnson, thank you for joining us.
Thank you, Shannon. Have a good evening.