The Georgia Senate primary will host a high-stakes showdown

US Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker have six challengers between them in Tuesday’s primary, but the two are already looking ahead to the general election as the GOP seeks to retake the seat Warnock won last year and helping the Democrats wipe out a Congress by a majority.

Republicans looking to regain control of the Senate have targeted the Georgia race, with former President Donald Trump throwing his weight behind Walker, a well-known former college football star. But five candidates hope to get Walker below the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff.

On the Democratic side, Warnock is trying to defend the seat he narrowly won in a special election in 2021. He has one opponent in the primary — beauty industry pro Tamara Johnson-Shealey — but she has shown few signs that she poses a serious threat to him.

A general election matchup between Warnock and Walker would mark the first time two major party candidates for the US Senate in Georgia have been black.

Warnock is pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. He became the first black senator elected from Georgia when he defeated Republican-elect Senator Kelly Loeffler in 2021, weeks after Democrats won the state’s presidential election for the first time since 1992.

As a Senator, Warnock has ridiculed Republicans’ push for stricter voting rules, calling them “Jim Crow in new clothes”; He emphasized his work bringing funds home for public health, national security research and other projects, highlighting his efforts to try to limit the cost of insulin and temporarily suspend the federal gasoline tax.

According to her campaign website, Johnson-Shealey owned a salon and founded two professional organizations for the beauty and hairdressing industries. Her platform calls for reparations for slavery, Medicare for all, and a path to citizenship for people illegally in the country.

On the Republican side, Walker — a political newcomer — has enjoyed near-unmatched fame in Georgia since his days as a college football running back. He led the University of Georgia football team to a national title in the 1980 season and won the 1982 Heisman Trophy. He counts Trump among his close friends.

But some of his Republican opponents have questioned his eligibility. Walker has a history of violence against women and has made several slips during the campaign. He also skipped the main debates. He’s been open about his long battle with mental illness and admitted to violent urges.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has been the most vocal in attacking Walker, saying he could not win in November over allegations of domestic violence and other previous troubles. Former Trump administration official and Navy veteran Latham Saddler has questioned Walker’s preparation for a possible debate with Warnock.

The other GOP primary candidates are: retired Brigadier General Jon McColumn; Contractor and Air Force veteran Kelvin King and former State Assemblyman Josh Clark. The Georgia Senate primary will host a high-stakes showdown

Bobby Allyn

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