the star sports politician with Joe Biden’s future in his hands

The contest between Mr. Walker and Mr. Warnock is the first time that two African Americans have competed for a Senate seat in Georgia.

But despite being one of Georgia’s most famous African Americans, polls suggest Mr Walker is widely unpopular with black residents, who make up a third of the population.

It’s a demographic that has become increasingly decisive in state elections, helping Mr. Biden tip Georgia blue in the 2020 presidential election for the first time since 1992, as well as to help Democrats take control of the Senate in 2021.

Reverend Thurmond Tillman of the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, one of the oldest black churches in North America, had a somewhat cynical view of the historic nature of this year’s contest.

A long-time friend of Mr Warnock, he said: “I think it was a strategy [to make Mr Walker the Republican candidate], especially from Trump, because of the importance of the black vote. They had to find a way to split the black vote.”

Mr. Warnock posed his own problems to voters. He was embroiled in a child custody dispute with his ex-wife and came under scrutiny over the substantial income he allegedly received from his church while also a senator.

A referendum on Biden’s presidency

Jay Williams, a Republican strategist in Georgia, offered a strong defense of Mr. Walker. “I think he’s doing pretty well if he even runs with an incumbent US senator and keeps it under 50%,” he said.

He framed Georgia’s Senate race as less a two-person contest and more a referendum on Mr. Biden’s presidency.

“At the end of the day, this race is a nationalized race. So no matter what the left may think of Herschel Walker’s flaws, people are going to vote for him because… Biden did a terrible job,” he said. he said, citing the president’s handling of the economy. and the pandemic.

As he made his last speech on the debate stage before early voting began on Monday, Mr Walker acknowledged that some voters might have concerns about his candidacy.

Staring straight into the camera, he channeled the anti-establishment sentiment of his mentor, Mr. Trump.

“For those of you who are worried about voting for me and not a politician, think of the damage politicians like Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock have done to this country,” he said.

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