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Raphael Warnock’s Political Priorities

With so much at stake (i.e., control of the U.S. Senate) in the January 5th runoff elections for BOTH Georgia senate seats, it’s no surprise both Democrats and Republicans are deploying expansive ground games and hundreds of millions of dollars into the state. Political ads, filled with mudslinging and false accusations, abound.

Once again, voters are left scratching their heads, wondering what’s true. To assist campaign-weary Georgia voters and well-meaning volunteers, TMM is profiling each of the four candidates. We began with incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) last week. This week, we continue with her opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a first-time political candidate.

Background

  • Born in Savannah, GA; grew up in public housing; the eleventh of twelve children.
  • Earned BA in psychology from Morehouse College; Master of Divinity, Master of Philosophy, and Doctor of Philosophy from Union Theological Seminary, affiliated with Columbia University.
  • Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.’s former congregation, since 2005.

Politics

  • Gained prominence in Georgia politics as leader in campaign to expand Medicaid under Affordable Care Act. Arrested (with 10 others) in 2014, while leading sit-in protest at Georgia Capitol after state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • Chaired New Georgia Project, former GA Governor candidate Stacey Abrams’ nonpartisan voter-registration organization, 2017 – 2020. Characterized by US News & World Report, with Abrams, as fighting hard to flip the South from Republican to Democrat, while “simultaneously fighting against a power structure that includes gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and purging inactive voters from the rolls”.
  • Quoted in November by NBC News: “My ideals are driven by my faith…I think your vote is your voice and your voice is human dignity. And we’ve got to make sure everyone has a voice in our democracy.”
  • Political role described recently by LA Times: “Democrats are positioning (Jon) Ossoff (the other GA Democratic senate candidate; TMM will profile him soon) and Warnock as emblems of the party’s diversity, a combination that is perhaps stronger together. Democratic strategists are banking on Ossoff appealing to a new generation of young, educated suburban voters, while Warnock (is) popular with the party’s traditional Black base.”
  • If campaign successful, would become only the seventh African American elected to Senate since Reconstruction.

Positions on Important Issues

  • Running to “fight for affordable health care, protect voting rights, and ensure dignity of working people”. (Ballotpedia)
  • Supports expanding Affordable Care Act. (Wikipedia)
  • Backs passage of John Lewis Voting Rights Act, reinstating terms of 1965 bill allowing more federal oversight of some states’ elections. (Politico)
  • Endorses living wage, telling NBC News: “We must pay essential workers essential pay.”
  • Describes climate change, as pastor, as critical environmental justice issue (opponent Loeffler supports Trump’s pro-fossil-fuel agenda). (Inside Climate News)
  • Quoted on criminal justice issues: “I do not support defunding the police. At the federal level, I believe we should address inequality by reforming our criminal justice system and providing restorative justice to communities devastated by the enforcement of discriminatory laws.” (Atlanta Magazine)
  • Supports gay and abortion rights. (NY Times)

 Setting the Record Straight

Fact Checkers at Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, 11 Alive, have diligently tried to help viewers separate fact from fiction in attack ads. Their take on claims against Warnock:

  • Accusation: Advocates ending cash bail.
  • Fact: True. He advocates ending cash bail, believing it unfairly penalizes those who cannot afford it.

 

  • Accusation: Made anti-military remarks.
  • Fact: Video, verified as legitimate, of 2011 Warnock sermon referencing Matthew 6:24 (“No man can serve two masters…”), foundational spiritual premise for people of faith. Warnock paraphrased, sayingYou cannot serve God and the military.” Recent ads depicting his father as veteran, claiming Warnock’s words taken out of context.

 

  • Accusation: Praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and welcomed him to his church.
  • Fact: Castro spoke at New York City church where Warnock was youth pastor, 1995; fact-checkers found no evidence Warnock helped plan or schedule event.

 

  • Accusation: Arrested for obstructing investigation into child abuse.
  • Fact: In 2002, arrested for hindering police investigation into child-abuse probe at church camp near Baltimore where he worked. Had demanded teenaged camp counselors have lawyers present when questioned by police; charges against him dropped.

Despite Loeffler’s best efforts to demonize Warnock and curry favor with coveted suburban women voters, it would be a mistake to dismiss his chances to win – especially with Loeffler facing allegations regarding her ethics.

Warnock has a laser focus, as NBC described it, with Stacey Abrams and her coalition behind him. In November, Abrams said: “We have seen what is possible when we work hard and when we work together. We know we can win Georgia. Now let’s get it done, again.”

Georgia voters, make a plan and vote on (or before) January 5. Our country is depending on you.

 

Laurentine Nicoletto, TMM Staff

 

Images: Google Images

Warnock featured image: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Warnock Pulpit: The Hill

Warnock Abrams: Meline Mara, The Washington Post, Getty images

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