FIRST ON FOX: The top outside group that supports Senate Republican incumbents and candidates is shelling out $14.2 million to run ads in Georgia’s Senate runoff election between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.
The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), which shared its runoff election plans first with Fox News on Tuesday, says the ads will run on TV, digital and radio, and that the first spot will target Warnock when it hits Georgia airwaves later this week.
Walker finished roughly 35,000 votes behind Warnock out of nearly 4 million votes cast in last week’s Senate election in the crucial southeastern battleground state. The Georgia Secretary of State Office announced last Wednesday that the Senate election was headed to a Dec. 6 runoff since no candidate received over 50% of the vote.
Under Georgia law, if no candidate tops 50% of the vote in the general election, the two top vote-getters go to a runoff, which this cycle will be held four weeks after Election Day on Dec. 6. According to unofficial returns, Warnock received 49.4% of the vote, Walker 48.5%, and Libertarian Chase Oliver 2.1%.
The new expenditure from the SLF, which is aligned with longtime Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, follows the $39 million it already spent in the southeastern battleground state to support Walker during the general election.
And SLF announced last week a $2 million investment in a turnout operation – a first for the group – as it took over Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s get-out-the-vote operation. Kemp comfortably won re-election last week over Democratic challenger and voting rights champion Stacey Abrams, in a rematch of their 2018 showdown.
“SLF is all-in on electing Herschel Walker to the Senate. This air assault – along with our previously-announced ground game – shows we are pulling out the stops to win in Georgia and beat the Democrats,” SLF President Steven Law told Fox News in a statement.
Warnock, who is the minister at Atlanta’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, narrowly edged Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5, 2021, Senate runoff elections. His victory, coupled with now-Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff’s razor-thin win over GOP Sen. David Perdue, gave the Democrats the Senate majority.
In the runoffs two years ago, the campaigns of the four candidates, the national political parties and outside groups such as super PACs, shelled out a mind-blowing half-billion dollars to run ads over a two-month period.
This time around, the runoff campaign in Georgia is only a month long, due to a new state law. And thanks to Democrats’ victories in close contests in the swing states of Arizona and Nevada, the party will retain its razor-thin Senate majority.
But the runoff election in Georgia will determine if the Democrats increase their majority to 51-49, or if the Senate stays deadlocked at 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris contributing the tie-breaking vote for Democrats through her constitutional duty as president of the Senate.
Both the Walker and Warnock campaigns have already launched ads in the runoff.
Outside groups are expected to be the biggest spenders in the showdown. The pro-Democratic outside group Georgia Honor – which is affiliated with the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC – went up with a seven-figure ad buy taking aim at Walker, as did the Democratic group American Bridge.
The NRA Political Victory Fund says it’s going up with a six-figure ad blitz, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee went up with a modest one-week mid six-figure buy.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced on Thursday a new massive $7 million field organizing investment in the Georgia runoff, which the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm said will fund direct voter contact programs, beefing up Warnock’s already “robust” field organizing efforts.
Walker, who won a Heisman Trophy and helped steer the University of Georgia to a college football national championship four decades ago, jumped into the Senate race in the summer of last year, after months of support and encouragement from former President Trump to run. It is Walker’s first run for office.