For the second consecutive cycle, Georgia voters need overtime to determine the winner of a major U.S. Senate seat, with incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock facing Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

This time, however, Senate control is not hanging by a thread, as it was in 2020, when the Democrats swept two races, pushing Jon Ossoff and Warnock into the Senate.

In this year’s November election, Democrats retained control of the Senate after winning key races in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada. But the extra Senate seat would give them considerable flexibility and make it less likely that Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin could retake the party’s program or at least hold it for ransom.

Warnock carried Walker on Election Day with just 37,675 votes, but a runoff was triggered when no candidate passed 50% of the vote, due to a third-party candidate garnering over 81,000 votes.

In an effort to squeeze every vote possible, Warnock and allies are pushing for the inclusion and exclusion of Hispanic voters, who made up 6% of Georgia’s electorate in November, supporting Democrats between 58% and 39%, according to exit polls.

The second round is on December 6, and early voting will begin on November 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, an early start that has endured a court challenge.

Former President Barack Obama greets Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia as he arrives for a Georgia Democrats campaign event in College Park, Georgia, October 28, 2022.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

said Warnock’s campaign staff Newsweek that Georgia’s Hispanic community is a key part of his multiracial coalition, and touted their support of CASA in Action, a respected Hispanic organization.

Paid campaign staff and organizational efforts are focused on mobilizing more than 100,000 Hispanic voters by reaching their phones and doors, with the plan to contact them multiple times during the runoff.

The campaign said it had made a total seven-figure investment in Spanish-language direct mail, television, newspapers and digital advertising for the general election and the second round, but did not explain what kind of investment would be made specifically for the second round.

However, he touted a robust booking operation involving Hispanic surrogates, including former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Latino celebrities from Spanish-language radio and television shows, as well as print articles discussing how to vote and the importance of voting for Latinos in the runoff.

Although the level of turnout in the second round is always uncertain, Warnock may have an advantage over Walker when it comes to ticket distribution among Georgia voters.

The senator received 1,945,929 raw votes, more than the 1,813,637 votes cast for high-profile gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who lost to Governor Brian Kemp for the second straight year. Conversely, Walker fared poorly against Kemp, receiving just 1,908,222 votes to Kemp’s 2,111,510 votes.

Herschel Walker Trump
Members of the “Blacks for Trump” campaign wave their signatures at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker on November 21, 2022 in Milton, Georgia.
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

The Warnock campaign is supported by two national Hispanic groups in Voto Latino and Mi Familia Vota, as well as a respected local organization that works to energize Latinos, including young Latinos.

During a Zoom call that heralded Georgia’s runoff election, Voto Latino co-founder Maria Teresa Kumar said the state’s largest group of Hispanic voters are in the 18- to 29-year-old age bracket. Asked by Newsweek to detail the scale of the investment, she said the group is raising $1 million for an effort that will span text, digital, radio and influencers, with a universe of “175,000 voters for a Hispanic-centric campaign to get out of the vote.”

Mi Familia Vota focuses on 10,000 doors that will hit twice in Dekalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties, along with 300,000 phone calls and 300,000 texts. The goal is to reach progressive Hispanics who may have voted in previous elections, as well as low-propensity voters.

Jesus Rubio, state director of Mi Familia Vota Georgia, said that while his “Basta Walker” campaign aims to highlight how “Walker is out of step and out of place with where the majority of the community is” in the state, they want also bolster Warnock on health care as he pushed to reduce the cost of insulin and sought to include more drug negotiation in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Both groups also mentioned the importance of ab*rtion as a voter issue, as well as describing Warnock as a “DACA ally”, citing Obama-era policies that allowed young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children to legally reside in the US and work.

The CEO of Mi Familia Vota, Héctor Sánchez Barba, who is going to Georgia before the second round, said Newsweek the state has become where his organization now conducts year-round efforts that extend beyond elections to build leadership efforts and focus on Hispanic youth.

After election deniers lost across the country, Sánchez Barba said that Georgia is another place where his organization puts a stake in the ground to declare that “MAGA extremists have no place in our democracy.”

Walker stirred up controversy during his Senate race, claiming he never heard Trump contest the 2020 election, defending the use of a “honour” police badge he pulled during a debate with Warnock, and for wanting to ban ab*rtion in all cases , despite reports in 2009 that he paid for an ab*rtion to his then-girlfriend.

The GALEO Impact Fund, a group with a long history of working with Hispanics in Georgia, is knocking on doors in targeted counties with strong Hispanic populations, including Gwinnett, Cobb, Dekalb, Hall and Whitfield counties.

“I still think Walker is an embarrassment,” said Jerry Gonzalez, founder and CEO of the group. Newsweek. He said his group was doing everything they could to help elect Senator Warnock because Walker “doesn’t come close to his level of experience or credibility to be a senator.”

GALEO also brings cultural competence to its home visits by releasing a Lottery with Warnock playing card that reads EL PASTOR, in honor of a pastor the group believes is respected in Hispanic homes.

“We’ve got some Lottery-themed digital ads and video because lots of families will be playing during Thanksgiving,” Gonzalez said of the game, which is sometimes referred to as Mexican bingo.

Raphael Warnlock Lottery Card
The GALEO Impact Fund released a Lottery card titled EL PASTOR this week to remind Hispanics that Senator Raphael Warnock is also a minister.
Courtesy of the GALEO Impact Fund

Republicans are working to elect Walker, but they do not appear to offer him a similarly strong support.

Juan Arias, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee Newsweek that they have 15 full-time employees helping with GOTV’s Hispanic efforts in the state and their “Operación ¡Vamos!” pledges to help Walker win the big win on December 6.

Said LIBRE Initiative Action, a conservative grassroots group operating in key states Newsweek engages Hispanics in Georgia’s runoff with “laser-focused economic contrast between job applicants and the economy” and why they believe Warnock is not taking the right political stance to put the community on the best economic path.

Experts say the narrow margin of the general election ensures that Hispanics can play a key role in the second round, which will take place in two weeks.

“Since Hispanics make up 6% of Georgia’s electorate in an election that will come down to the smallest margins, they are sure to be the deciding vote in this cycle,” Kristian Ramos, a Democratic consultant and Washington D.C. expert, said Newsweek.

“We know from the past that they are anti-MAGA,” he added, “but we need to make sure they are aware of how extreme Walker is.”

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