ATLANTA — Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock wrapped up his “one more time” tour with a victory Tuesday in the runoff, defeating Republican rival Herschel Walker to secure a six-year term.
“Against unspeakable odds, here we stand together,” he said.
Here are four takeaways from the Georgia runoff:
Warnock’s star rises
The “senator reverend,” as he calls himself, keeps winning.
Warnock has been on the ballot five times in a roughly two-year span — one Democratic primary, two general elections and two runoffs — and finished first each time. Along the way, he has dispensed with three Republican contenders (before Walker, he faced former Sen. Kelly Loeffler and former Rep. Doug Collins in a 2020 special election).
It’s a remarkable feat for a political newcomer in two different political environments, and even more so for the first Black person elected senator from Georgia, once a bastion of the Confederacy.
Warnock spent the last few years in permanent campaign mode, his fate long appearing uncertain in this purple state during a challenging landscape for Democrats. That had minimized any chatter about his future prospects. But this electoral success is sure to elevate his star, possibly into the echelons of presidential or vice-presidential contenders.
Asked if Warnock is a future White House candidate, his campaign manager, Quentin Fulks, told NBC News on Tuesday: “I don’t know. I think Sen. Warnock is very tired and I think he’s been campaigning for a long time. I can’t wait to see what he does, but I know he can’t wait to see what he can do when he has a full six-year term to represent the people of Georgia.”
Democrats expand their Senate power
Warnock’s victory gives Democrats their 51st seat — an outright majority that ends their reliance on Vice President Kamala Harris for tie-breaking votes.
In practice, that means smoother sailing on executive nominees and judges, without Republicans having the ability to force deadlocked committee votes and make the Senate jump through extra procedural hoops. It also means more power for Democrats to issue subpoenas without Republican buy-in, setting up a contrast to the GOP-controlled House’s plans to aggressively investigate the Biden administration. And it means that no single member, like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., can make or break the party’s agenda.
“Reverend Warnock’s well-earned win is not just a victory for Georgia, but also for democracy — as the last brick in our firewall against extremist MAGA Republican policies that threaten the very essence of our democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
Suburbs and ticket-splitters hold for Democrats
The 2022 result in Georgia indicates that suburban voters who left the Republican Party during the rise of former President Donald Trump are in no rush to return.
Warnock once again dominated in the booming and vote-rich Atlanta metropolitan area, matching or expanding his margins from the general election. Walker improved his margins in some rural counties, particularly in northern Georgia, but it wasn’t enough.
Warnock’s top advisers said they focused heavily on swing voters, and their strategy paid off.
“Creating a permission structure for soft Republicans, swing voters and independents to support Rev. Warnock was key to our strategy, and why we highlighted things like working with Ted Cruz or standing up for peanut farmers,” Warnock’s deputy campaign manager, Rachel Petri, said in an interview. “This was more than about Democrat versus Republican, it was trying to make this a decision between two specific candidates.”
Fulks said the GOP misread the landscape: “Republicans quite frankly thought that the national environment would be enough to win in all of these states and put forth candidates that had no answers to any of the problems facing these states and the voters that live there. And I think voters saw through that.”
In a lengthy Twitter thread Tuesday evening, Josh Holmes, a longtime adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Republicans need an “honest evaluation of party’s problems. Not taking points that rile up loud voices.”
One thing Republicans need to understand: the new(ish) coalition of simply swapping rural working class for suburban Rs works on paper. Hell it works in presidentials. The turnout discrepancy in midterms is significant. Need to either fix rural midterm turnout or mix the appeal.
— Josh Holmes (@HolmesJosh) December 7, 2022
Trumpism (still) alienates some swing voters
There is evidence that 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump’s brand of politics continues to alienate an important slice of swing voters, particularly in the Atlanta suburbs, which have trended from red to blue. Walker has been tied to Trump as a longtime friend who won an early Senate endorsement from the former president, enabling the political newcomer to clear the GOP primary field.
NBC News exit polls from Election Day last month found that 1 in 4 Georgia voters said their vote was about opposing Trump, and 94% of them voted for Warnock over Walker.
Walker finished second on Election Day and lost Tuesday’s runoff. By contrast, two of the most high-profile Republicans in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, won their races on Election Day, topping 50% and avoiding a runoff. Some of Walker’s biggest deficits relative to Kemp’s vote share came in populous Atlanta-area counties such as Cobb and Fulton. Walker held his own in the vast rural stretches of the state where the “MAGA” brand is popular, but it wasn’t enough.
Among other differences, one was that Kemp and Raffensperger were not associated with Trump in the minds of voters — both rejected his fabricated claims about a stolen 2020 election.
দুর্দান্ত জয়ে ফাইনাল নিশ্চিত হওয়ার পরে, ‘এগিয়ে যাও আর্জেন্টিনা, হৃদয় নিংড়ানো ভালোবাসা’ মেসির স্ত্রী
আর্জেন্টিনা সেমিফাইনালে ওঠার পরও এমন একটা ছবি পোস্ট করেছিলেন আন্তোনেলা রোকুজ্জো। তিন সন্তানকে নিয়ে হাসিখুশি একটা ছবি নিজের ইনস্টাগ্রাম অ্যাকাউন্টে পোস্ট করে লেখেন,‘সেমিতে! এগিয়ে যাও আর্জেন্টিনা, হৃদয় নিংড়ানো ভালোবাসা।’ কাতার বিশ্বকাপজুড়েই এমন সব ছবি পোস্ট করেছেন রোকুজ্জো। মাঠে তাঁর জীবনসঙ্গী লিওনেল মেসি লড়াই করেন আর্জেন্টিনার জন্য।
আর রোকুজ্জো আর্জেন্টিনার জার্সি পরে গ্যালারি থেকে সমর্থন দেন তাঁর দেশ আর্জেন্টিনাকে, মেসিকে। কাল রাতে আর্জেন্টিনা ফাইনালে ওঠার পরও এমন একটি পোস্ট করেন রোকুজ্জো। লুসাইল
স্টেডিয়ামে কাল রাতে সেমিফাইনালে ক্রোয়েশিয়াকে ৩–০ গোলে হারিয়ে ফাইনালে ওঠে আর্জেন্টিনা। নিজে একটি গোল করার পাশাপাশি হুলিয়ান আলভারেজকে দিয়েও গোল করান মেসি।
আর জোড়া গোল করেন আলভারেজ। দুর্দান্ত এই জয়ের পর মনের আনন্দ আর ধরে রাখতে পারেননি রোকুজ্জো। তিন সন্তান থিয়াগো, মাতেও ও চিরোকে নিয়ে লুসাইলের গ্যালারিতে একটি ছবি তোলেন।
সেই ছবি ইনস্টাগ্রামে পোস্ট করে রোকুজ্জো লিখেছেন, ‘এই আনন্দ ভাষায় প্রকাশ করতে পারব না। কারণ, কেউ তা বুঝবেন না। এগিয়ে যাও আর্জেন্টিনা, এগিয়ে যাও মেসি।’ কাতার বিশ্বকাপে এ পর্যন্ত ৫ গোল করেছেন মেসি। গোল বানিয়েও দিয়েছেন। আর্জেন্টিনার ফাইনালে ওঠায় তাঁর অবদান এক কথায় অনবদ্য।
কাল রাতে ফাইনালে ওঠার পর পরিবারকেও স্মরণ করেছেন এই তারকা, ‘পরিবারের কথা মনে পড়ছে। তারা সব সময় পাশে ছিল। ভালো ও খারাপ—দুই রকম সময়ই পার করেছি। তবে এখনকার সময়টা উপভোগের।’ রোজারিওতে জন্ম নেওয়া রোকুজ্জোর সঙ্গে মেসির প্রথম দেখা ১৯৯৬ সালে। তাঁর কাজিন ও ফুটবলার লুকাস স্কাগলিয়া মেসির শৈশবের বন্ধু। স্কাগলিয়ার মাধ্যমেই রোকুজ্জোর সঙ্গে পরিচয় ঘটে মেসির।
২০০৭ সালে রোকুজ্জোর খুব কাছের এক বন্ধু গাড়ি দুর্ঘটনায় মারা যাওয়ার পর তাঁকে মানসিকভাবে সমর্থন দিতে বার্সেলোনা থেকে আর্জেন্টিনায় ফিরে যান মেসি। সেখান থেকে ফেরার পর প্রণয়ে জড়িয়ে পড়েন দুজন। ২০০৯ সালের জানুয়ারিতে এক সাক্ষাৎকারে মেসি প্রথম স্বীকার করেন, রোকুজ্জোর সঙ্গে তাঁর প্রেমের সম্পর্ক চলছে। ২০১৭ সালে রোজারিওতে বিয়ের পিঁড়িতে বসেন দুজন।
Conservative firebrand launches another bid to block McCarthy from becoming speaker
Three weeks ago, conservative Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., was defeated by GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy in their party’s private, internal vote for speaker of the House.
On Tuesday, Biggs said he’s launching yet another challenge to McCarthy for speaker — this time in the public vote on the House floor set for Jan. 3.
“I’m running for Speaker to break the establishment,” Biggs tweeted, linking to an op-ed in the conservative Daily Caller outlining his opposition to McCarthy. “Kevin McCarthy was created by, elevated by, and maintained by the establishment.”
The point of Biggs’s second bid for speaker in as many months is not to win the coveted gavel — the former leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus has zero chance of winning over moderate Republicans who have clashed with his group in the past.
Instead, Biggs is aiming to give his colleagues an alternative to vote for on the House floor and to deny McCarthy the 218 GOP votes he needs to secure the speaker’s gavel during the first vote of the new Congress next month.
“People are thrilled that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reign of Leftist extremism is ending. The question is whether we will be treated to the status quo that will move us along the same path, though perhaps more slowly,” Biggs wrote in his op-ed. “Will we elect an establishment Republican as the speaker — think Paul Ryan, or in this case, Ryan’s right-hand man, Kevin McCarthy.”
Republicans flipped control of the lower chamber in the November midterms, but because they will hold just a razor-thin margin over the Democrats, McCarthy can only afford to lose four GOP votes during the Jan. 3 roll call.
Democrats are expected to back their own leader for speaker, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and five conservative lawmakers are already on record saying they will not vote for McCarthy under any circumstance.
A McCarthy spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But allies to the California Republican have vowed that McCarthy will take the fight to the House floor rather than quit his quest to be speaker like he did in 2015, when the same group of conservative rabble-rousers threatened his first speaker bid.
If Biggs and other conservatives can successfully block McCarthy from 218 votes — more than half of the total 435 seats in the chamber — it could throw the House into complete chaos. Because House business is essentially at a standstill until lawmakers elect a speaker, members will need to vote again and again until someone secures a simple majority of the votes.
The last time a speaker vote went multiple ballots was exactly a century ago. During a two-month stretch before the Civil War, the House was deadlocked on a choice for speaker, eventually holding 133 votes before settling on Rep. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts.
Some moderate GOP McCarthy allies say it would never reach that point. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told NBC News last month that to avoid potential chaos he would be willing to cross the aisle and team up with Democrats to elect a consensus moderate GOP speaker.
Bacon repeated his threat to conservative “cowboys” during an appearance on C-SPAN on Tuesday, saying they “divide the team, weaken the team” at a time Republicans need to be unified.
“I’m one of the folks who are playing hardball back. We’re not going to be held hostage by a small number of people that’s going to hurt the team,” Bacon said. “So we’re going to stand up to this.”
In his op-ed Tuesday, Biggs attacked McCarthy for his talks with the White House for a year-end spending package that would “bloat our national debt and extend until next October.” By striking a deal before Republicans assume the House majority in January, Biggs argued, “Leader McCarthy is about to eviscerate our leverage for the balance of the Biden presidency.”
A past chairman of the Donald Trump-aligned Freedom Caucus, Biggs also knocked McCarthy for proposing a resolution to censure the former president for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and for initially defending then-GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., after she voted to impeach Trump.
McCarthy later called on Cheney to resign from leadership and backed her Trump-endorsed primary challenger, Harriet Hageman, who ousted Cheney in the GOP primary in August.
“Here we have an establishment candidate for speaker of the House who circulated a censure resolution of Trump and protected Liz Cheney when the majority of the Republicans wanted to remove her as their leader,” Biggs wrote of McCarthy. “It wasn’t until she personally embarrassed him that McCarthy supported her dismissal.”
Another Freedom Caucus member and McCarthy foe, Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., has said it’s time for Republicans to turn the page on McCarthy and move on to other candidates.
“It’s in the best interest of the Congress and the country for [colleagues] to come out publicly to illustrate or demonstrate that he’s not going to be speaker,” Good told reporters. “He doesn’t have the votes to get to 218; he’s not going to get to 218.
“The number of public hard ‘no’ votes is going to just continue to increase,” he said.
Jan. 6 committee chair expects panel to issue criminal referrals to DOJ
The chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., expects the panel to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, he told reporters Tuesday.
“We have made decisions on criminal referrals,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the panel has yet to formalize its decision. He also declined to say which individuals would be subject to the referrals or how many he expects the panel to make.
Thompson later told reporters that he thinks there is “general agreement” on the panel that referrals will be issued.
“But we’re not there yet,” he said. “I wish I could tell you one, two, three, four but that’s all still being discussed.”
In a statement to NBC News, a spokesperson for the committee said it “has determined that referrals to outside entities should be considered as a final part of its work,” and that it will make “decisions about specifics in the days ahead.”
Committee members previously signaled the possibility of sending multiple criminal referrals to the Justice Department involving former President Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results based on evidence they’ve uncovered investigating the events surrounding the attack on the Capitol.
Last July, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair and one of two Republicans on the panel, told ABC News that the committee would make a decision about whether to alert the Justice Department to possible crimes it has uncovered.
“The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral, and there could be more than one criminal referral,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” in July.
Cheney pointed to one of the committee’s public hearings in June that featured explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, former top aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In her testimony, Hutchinson detailed outbursts of rage from Trump as he urged his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, which included demanding his aides get rid of magnetometers near the White House before he addressed a “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse.
“It’s very chilling, and I think we will, you know, continue to present to the American people what we found,” Cheney said at the time, referring to details Hutchinson shared in her testimony.
The panel has been conflicted over whether to refer its findings to the Justice Department. Thompson told reporters in June that “we do not have authority” when asked whether the panel ruled out potential criminal charges for the former president.
The panel voted unanimously to subpoena Trump during its ninth public hearing, its last before the November midterm election. It subpoenaed Trump for any communications he may have had regarding extremist groups involved in the Capitol attack and any attempts in the past year to contact witnesses testifying before the committee.
The former president sued the committee last month in an effort to block the subpoena, arguing that the panel lacked the constitutional authority to issue it. Trump’s lawyers also argued that the subpoena’s purpose is “partisan, not legislative — to punish President Trump, and to score political points.”
Trump’s lawsuit came days before he announced his 2024 presidential bid.