Raphael Warnock may be heading from church to state
Polls indicate that Dr. Warnock is a frontrunner in one of two Senate races in Georgia
Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, prominent Black preacher and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate gave a stump speech on a recent Sunday morning that was a mixture of pulpit humor and fiery condemnation of Republicans in the age of Trump.
He chastised Republicans for neglecting “the poorest of the poor” while providing for “the richest of the rich,” and accused them of distracting the country with bigotry and division.
Calling for the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, Dr. Warnock said, “I’ve read the Gospel a few times, and Jesus spent a lot of time healing the sick. Even those with preexisting conditions.”
According to the New York Times, polls indicate that Dr. Warnock, 51, is a frontrunner in one of two Senate races in Georgia, and is using the same playbook as close ally, Stacey Abrams, who came close to winning the 2018 governor’s race by turning out minorities and younger voters.
Dr. Warnock is not a typical politician. As the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, he is directly linked to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who preached at the same church. Dr. Warnock considers himself to be a disciple of Dr. King, who not only adhered to the principles of nonviolence, but was also an outspoken champion of the poor.
Like King, Dr. Warnock has sometimes landed in jail. In 2014 he was arrested for protesting Republicans’ refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, and in 2017 he was arrested in Washington for protesting proposed budget cuts to social services. He supports abortion rights and gay marriage, and has been criticized by conservative media for making comments critical of the police.
“We shouldn’t be surprised when we see police officers act like bullies on the street,” he said in a clip played by Fox News host, Tucker Carlson.
While Georgia, a state with a shameful Jim Crow past, may finally be ready to send a Black senator to Washington, is it willing to elect someone as unabashedly progressive as Dr. Warnock, despite his coming to politics as a man of God?
The Georgia senate race is a peculiar, multiparty contest that includes two Republicans that are splitting the conservative vote (Rep. Doug Collins and Sen. Kelly Loeffler) and two Democrats (Dr. Warnock and Matt Liebermann, who has declined to drop out despite pleas from party leaders).
It is possible that no candidate will get the majority of the votes, which would trigger a January runoff in which Dr. Warnock could faceoff against a single Republican, who would most likely consolidate conservative support.
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