Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock

Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock
© Greg Nash

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black (R) on Friday launched a Senate bid in the Peach State, becoming the GOP’s most prominent challenger thus far to try to unseat Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockHarris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries ObamaCare 2.0 is a big funding deal Kaseya ransomware attack highlights cyber vulnerabilities of small businesses MORE (D).

Black, who is serving his third term, is rolling out his campaign at the GOP state party convention Friday. In a statement announcing his candidacy, Black tore into President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE’s agenda, saying he would serve to block his priorities from making it through the Senate.

“Warnock and Biden promised to ‘fundamentally change America,’” Black said in a press release. “They’re five months into it and job growth and opportunity are down, inflation, debt and gas prices are up, the Middle East is back at war. Satisfied? Or sickened? I fundamentally object. I’ll stand in the gap and say the wave comes this far, and no further.” 

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Unseating Warnock is a lynchpin of the GOP’s strategy to take back the Senate, which the party lost in January after Warnock and Sen. Jon OssoffJon OssoffObamaCare 2.0 is a big funding deal Senate Democrats call for Medicaid-like plan to cover non-expansion states Stacey Abrams PAC tops 0 million raised MORE (D-Ga.) narrowly won two runoffs in the Peach State.

Two military veterans, Kelvin King and Latham Saddler, have already entered the Republican primary, and former NFL and University of Georgia football player Herschel Walker and former Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerHarris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Trump says Herschel Walker will enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.) are mulling their own high-profile bids.

Democrats seized on Black’s announcement, speculating that the primary race could grow ugly as Warnock coasts to the Democratic nomination unscathed.

“Georgia’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate is shaping up to be a crowded race full of candidates who are completely out of touch with the challenges Georgians are facing,” said Dan Gottlieb, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Every candidate will spend this messy GOP free-for-all ignoring the needs of Georgia families, schools, and small businesses – and proving why they can’t be trusted to represent Georgians in the Senate.” 

The growing primary field could become even more competitive if Walker and Loeffler throw their hats into the ring. Both would likely bring in significant sums of money to fund their campaigns, and Walker has been urged to run by former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE and other high-profile Republicans.

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GOP Rep. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterSchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Trump says Herschel Walker will enter Georgia Senate race Bottom line MORE, who is also pressing Walker to run, has said he will jump into the race if the former football star declines to launch a bid.

Former GOP Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE, who lost to Ossoff in the runoff, and former Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE, who lost to Loeffler in the 2020 Senate primary, have said they will not run for office in 2022.

While Walker would likely have Trump’s support should he run, Black is also a staunch supporter of the former president, founding his rural and agriculture advisory group in 2016. 

Georgia has emerged as a top political battleground after 2020 when Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since 1992. The state will also host a competitive gubernatorial race as Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia Gov. Kemp says FDA needs to upgrade its authorization for vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Savannah becomes first major city in Georgia to reinstate masks MORE (R) — a frequent target of Trump — looks to win a second term.