Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)
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 Warnock (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 Biden’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.” 

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 Ossoff (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 Loeffler (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 Trump and other high-profile Republicans.

GOP Rep. Buddy Carter, 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 Perdue, who lost to Ossoff in the runoff, and former Rep. Doug Collins, 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 Kemp (R) — a frequent target of Trump — looks to win a second term.

Tags Brian Kemp Buddy Carter David Perdue Donald Trump Doug Collins Gary Black Georgia Georgia Republican Party Joe Biden Jon Ossoff Kelly Loeffler Raphael Warnock Raphael Warnock United States Senate election in Georgia
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