It was quite a night for political aficionados like me yesterday.
I settled in to watch MSNBC's coverage of the Georgia runoff election between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker around 5 pm. Between then and 8:30 or so, when the Senate race was called in favor of Warnock, I went through a bunch of ups and downs until the final Big Up.
I'm resisting talking about the lead changing hands, because this is an inaccurate way of describing what happened.
An election night isn't like a football game where the outcome is uncertain as the teams each score in an unpredictable fashion. The election result is decided once the polls close. All that remains is the counting of votes.
In this case, Warnock jumped out to an early lead because early voting and absentee ballots were counted first. Then Walker took the lead as lots of smallish conservative counties released their results. And just as in previous Georgia elections, Warnock ended up victorious when votes from the large Atlanta-area counties were counted.
I felt really good when MSNBC, along with CNN and Fox, called the race for Warnock. It would have been horrible if Walker had won. Herschel Walker was a great football player. He was a disastrous Senate candidate.
Walker was one of the least qualified people to ever run for the Senate. Aside from the fact that he had zero political experience, Walker lied incessantly, was ignorant of basic facts about the world, almost certainly paid for at least two abortions even though he claimed to be pro-life, and was accused of violence against women.
So it says a lot about the dismal state of the Republican Party that even with all of his failings, Walker still got almost 49% of the vote.
Given what a strong candidate Raphael Warnock was, Walker should have been trounced. But tribalism runs strong in the Republican Party.
And I have to admit that while Democrats aren't nearly as inclined to support a deeply flawed candidate, if my party put forward someone with credentials as bad as Walker's, and electing that person would markedly help the Democratic agenda, I'd be tempted to vote for them.
Fortunately, Warnock came out on top. I left the TV on so I could watch his victory speech. (Shared below via You Tube.)
Wow, really impressive. Raphael Warnock is a preacher, so it isn't surprising that he speaks well. But both what he said and how he said it went way beyond "well." We're talking Obama-level speechifying here. Warnock can even sound a lot like Obama in his cadence and tone of voice.
As an atheist, I'm not wild about winning candidates who praise God in their victory speech. Seems like they should also praise God if they lose, which I bet happens only rarely. Warnock spoke, if I recall correctly, about everybody having a spark of the divine in them.
But then he said something like, "If those words don't appeal to you, that's fine; we've got a big tent." And pleasingly, said that another way of putting it is that everybody has value. Nice. This showed me that while Warnock is deeply religious, he recognizes that we live in a pluralistic society where Christianity is just one of many options, including no religious belief at all.
It's hard to see Warnock being a presidential candidate in 2024, since he was just elected to a full six year Senate term. (Yet didn't Obama serve only two years in the Senate?) I can easily see him as a candidate in 2028 or later, though. He sure seems to have a bright political future ahead of him.
Here's his victory speech.