Runoff in Georgia is important for Senate control

Herschel Walker-Warnock debate moderators Tina Tyus-Shaw and Buck Lanford

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DDemocrats across the country breathed a sigh of relief after the US Senate races in Arizona and Nevada were finally called. Victories in those two states ensure Democrats will at least maintain the current 50-50 split in the chamber next year.

Only the outcome of one state is still open: Georgia. Once again there will be a runoff in the Peach State, this time between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.

In 2020, Georgia caught the nation’s attention. With control of the Senate at stake, outside funds and organizational forces flowed into the state on both sides. SSome might be wondering if the stakes are that high this year.

After all, Vice President Kamala Harris is President of the Senate and can break any tie. But the stakes in Georgia are still sky-high, requiring all of us to seize the moment and go all-in over the next three weeks.

First, Georgia’s multiracial working class deserves representatives to fight for them, not the powerful, privileged, and well-connected. Every day, in the face of apparent voter suppression for nearly a decade, Georgians and grassroots groups are organizing to ensure the state has representatives accountable to the people, and we must not lose ground now.

The contrast between Sen. Warnock and Mr. Walker could not be more stark. Warnock has led the fight to lower outrageous insulin costs, guarantee paid family leave and raise the minimum wage – and protect abortion rights. Walker opposes all of these basic rights and benefits for working people and has not demonstrated the temperament, judgment or basic aptitude for leadership. He would be a stamp for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, period.

But beyond Georgia’s interest in accountable representatives, we all have an interest in seeing Warnock win. There are real benefits to expanding the Democratic majority from 50-50 to 51-49. Democrats have delivered significant legislation for the American people in recent years, from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to the infrastructure bill, but the process has been halting and chaotic and often at the whim of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV .) and Kirsten Sinema (D-AZ.).

At various points, both Manchin and Sinema weakened unilaterally proposed legislation, whether it be Sinema scaling back plans on prescription drugs or taxes on the wealthy, or Manchin forcing huge fossil fuel subsidies into the Ultimate IRA. Having an extra “cushion” in the legislature would not work against a united Manchin and Sinema, but it would allow us to bypass one of them. It would also allow bills to flow faster through Congress – with or without their support – and allow a Democratic senator to be absent without delays.

By 51-49, Democrats would have majorities on all levels of committees that affect our daily lives. We would also have the authority to issue subpoenas and expedited confirmations for judges and other officials. No self-respecting basketball team would say that a score of 51-50 is “enough” and stop playing to win. We must fight for every point on this board, because each one makes it easier to meet people’s material needs.

A stronger majority also helps provide an important cushion in case a vacancy suddenly arises or to shore up the Democratic faction in future election cycles. The Senate card in 2024 looks bloody for Democrats as they face contests in some of the nation’s most conservative states. Democrats need the largest possible Senate majority this election cycle if we are to maintain any semblance of governing power for years to come.

Georgia remains an important battleground that we must fight for the benefit of ordinary Georgians and working families across the country. We need every single registered voter to come out and help us increase our Senate majority and ensure Georgia has adequate and effective representation. The good news is that after years of building and organizing, grassroots groups like the Working Families Party, Black Voters Matter, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Care in Action (among several others) have the infrastructure and people power to compete against each other . Toe with Republicans across the state. They need your support, whether it’s volunteer hours or small donations.

Now is not the time to throw in the towel. We have an opportunity in the Georgia Senate runoff on Tuesday, December 6th to secure another great victory for the people. Let’s bring it home.

Britney Whaley is the Working Families Party’s Southeast Regional Director.

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