On the heels of the November 8th midterm General election, one where the Georgia Republican Party experienced a wave of statewide and local victories at the ballot box, emphatically showing that we are a “red” state, one race sorely stands out. Unable to determine a clear winner using a “50% plus one” election rule, Georgia voters had to return to the voting booth to determine who would be our next U.S. Senator for a December 6th Runoff election. Consequently, one week ago today, Georgia voters elected incumbent Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock to a full six-year term in one of the most expensive political races in U.S. history, bucking the trend of a Republican sweep in the midterm General election from only a month earlier. According to a New York Times article, since 2020, $1.4B has been spent on just four races in Georgia reinforcing the significance of Georgia’s influence on national politics.
For such a high-stakes race as our U.S. Senate, one would think the Georgia Republican Party and other political influencers would give greater attention to the established Primary and General election processes and norms. This increased attention would ensure that the final nominee would be the proven best candidate possible, giving the Republican Party our best chance of defeating Senator Raphael Warnock. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
For months, former President Trump pressured his selected candidate to leave Texas, where he had resided for several decades, to jump into the U.S. Senate race in Georgia. The “sales pitch” was that his sports prowess would be strong enough to convince Georgians to vote for him en masse; the pitch worked. In actuality, this Trump endorsed candidate did have the popularity and name recognition to win the Republican Primary election, continue on to win the General election unseating “the first elected black Senator in Georgia” Raphael Warnock, and become our “first black senator elected to serve a full six-year term.” In some political circles, however, it was contrarily whispered that he couldn’t LOSE the Primary election but couldn’t WIN the General election. We now know the results. So, what went wrong?
First, there was no proper recognition of the importance of social demographics in Georgia’s political environment. Black people make up about 33% of Georgia’s population. As I’ve said many times during my Senate campaign, Georgia is a unique state in being the cradle of the Civil Rights movement in America. Democrats have held onto this legacy for far too long of course, but any Republican who is challenging the incumbent “first” black Senator, who is also the Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, must have a well thought out strategy for chipping away at the black vote. Ironically, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp understood this strategy and expertly campaigned to and won black voters…more than the Republican Senate candidate. Many strategists thought running a Black Republican candidate against the incumbent Democrat black senator would give the Republicans our best chance of winning. I too subscribed to that thinking. However, and thankfully, simply being black was never enough. In the black community being the “first” matters. The “first” show representation and representation matters. Being the “first” represents excellence in that the Black community is progressing and achieving in a particular field or arena. Progress and achievement from members of the Black community are a source of pride. It is a counterargument to some of the negative stereotypes that the Black community has struggled to shake. Some of these negative stereotypes are that athletes and entertainers are our only achievers, that we are poor speakers and inarticulate, that we are absentee fathers, we are violent, and we no longer relate to the black community once we experience success. Sadly, our Republican candidate was easily labeled with each of those negative stereotypes. As I said, simply being black was never enough.
Also, there was no proper adherence to the Republican Primary election process. The Primary election process is established for both the candidates and the primary voters. Over the months-long primary election phase, candidates can learn about voter concerns, hone their speaking and messaging skills, practice and debate ahead of a potential General election, adjust strategy if needed, and make their pitch to the primary voters of Georgia. Over those same months, voters can hear from and visit with the candidates, evaluate and challenge candidate positions, review candidate resumes and backgrounds, and count on their Party officials to remain neutral while allowing each campaign to succeed or fail on its own. In the case of the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, our party allowed a single candidate to not be shown on the same flyers as other primary candidates, not be in the presence of other candidates while campaigning, not participate in multiple debates, and not be properly vetted during the Primary. These special acts of accommodation, which hampered the proper vetting, ultimately proved fatal for our candidate in the General and Runoff elections.
Lastly, we Georgia Republicans allowed ourselves to be placed in a precarious situation for the U.S. Senate General and Runoff Elections. We promote being the party of life, family, and integrity, but were left with a nominee who didn’t espouse those same values. This made it impossible to defend our candidate without being hypocritical. Because there was so little vetting of the nominee during the Republican primary election, nor was there a demand that the entire primary process be followed, Georgia voters were left with the one candidate who many thought couldn’t lose a Primary election, and ultimately did not win the General and Runoff elections against Raphael Warnock.
Going forward, as Republicans, let’s decide to do all that we can to grow our party, exemplify its values, select candidates who do the same, and demand our elected officials to govern as such. I have decided to do what I can to grow our party by focusing on men. Strong men create strong families, strong families create strong neighborhoods and communities, and strong communities make a strong America. Kings for America is a campaign to promote Republican principles to men of all ethnicities and to bridge the messaging gap by having authentic conversations and policy discussions. Please follow us at lwfaa.com to get involved.