Democrat Warnock Agrees to Debate Herschel Walker After Months of Stalemate

FILE - Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker campaigns Sept. 7, 2021, in Emerson, Ga
AP Photos/Bill Barrow, File

A standoff over debates for the U.S. Senate race in Georgia ended Tuesday evening after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) committed to squaring off with his opponent, Republican Herschel Walker, on a debate stage in Savannah in October.

Warnock’s decision comes after the two candidates sparred for months over debate logistics, ultimately leading to Walker pressing Warnock to meet him in Savannah, where Warnock has hometown advantage, for a debate with a live audience hosted by Nexstar.

“I’m not going to obey the demands of the elite press and the liberal establishment to stand in an empty room for a debate that’s supposed to be about the people,” Walker said in a video statement August 2, announcing he had accepted terms of the Nexstar debate.

Walker’s message came after Warnock in June announced — without consulting Walker ahead of time, according to Walker’s campaign — that he would partake in three debates, hosted by the Atlanta Press Club, local outlet WTOC, and Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock speaks during a debate with Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, Pool)

Democrat candidate Raphael Warnock speaks during a debate in his first bid for Senate, December 6, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, Pool)

Warnock is up for reelection in a tight race against Walker, a Georgia football legend, and the race is widely viewed as a toss-up that could, along with a handful of other battleground states, determine which party controls the U.S. Senate next year.

Walker, for his part, did not initially respond to Warnock’s debate announcements, keeping silent for about a month while Warnock publicly attacked Walker repeatedly in social media posts and a campaign ad for refusing to commit to any of the three debates.

Walker eventually spoke out, however, beginning at the end of July, about his concerns with the debates, citing alleged political bias and the lack of a live audience.

“Herschel has accepted an impartial statewide debate that’s for the people, not the partisan, elite Atlanta Press Club, which we now know is actually the Warnock-Biden Press Club,” Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise said in a press release on August 8.

Paradise referenced a Washington Free Beacon report revealing several Atlanta Press Club board members had donated a combined total of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including President Joe Biden, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Warnock, in 2020.

“No wonder voters don’t trust politicians and their media friends. … We’re leaving the elite media behind and rejecting the partisan Press Club debate. And so should Senator Warnock. Instead, we have accepted a fair debate for the people,” Paradise said in reference to the Nexstar debate.

Warnock then put up objections to Walker’s debate proposition, stating August 25:

Walker said in response to Warnock that Warnock needs to “put his big man pants on” and accept the Savannah debate, and that it “doesn’t matter what the topics are because he can’t win on any of them.”

The Walker campaign told Breitbart News the campaign met with Nexstar to establish terms of the debate but that the campaign did not ask for debate topics in advance.

Nexstar is a national media group that hosts prominent political debates across the country, including in battlegrounds like Ohio and Pennsylvania. A Nexstar representative confirmed to Breitbart News that “providing topics to candidates is not unusual for a Nexstar debate,” noting high-profile debates, such as presidential debates, have also operated this way.

On Tuesday night, after another two weeks of pressure from Walker, Warnock agreed to participate in the Nexstar debate but added that he still wanted Walker to “reconsider” participating in the Atlanta Press Club and Mercer University debates.

Walker has at this stage given no indication of his interest in participating in any other debates, but the former Georgia football star celebrated Warnock’s debate confirmation in a video statement Wednesday morning.


The Nexstar debate will be broadcast statewide October 14.

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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