Georgia Senate race: 3 things to know about Rev. Raphael Warnock

Warnock is a senior pastor in Atlanta church where Dr. King preached

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Rev. Raphael Warnock is the Democratic candidate in one of two heated runoff elections for Georgia Senate seats taking place on Tuesday.

Warnock’s competitor is incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to fill former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat last January. In the Nov. 3 election, Loeffler was also challenged by a Republican, Rep. Doug Collins, who came in third. 

On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden and President Trump were in the Peach State stumping for their candidates, with the Senate majority hanging in the balance.

Here are three things to know about Warnock, a first-time political candidate.

Religious roots

Warnock, 51, has served as a senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta since 2005, which is the same church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. 

Both of Warnock’s parents were also Pentecostal preachers.

In this June 23, 2020, file photo, Rev. Raphael G. Warnock delivers the eulogy for Rayshard Brooks' funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

In this June 23, 2020, file photo, Rev. Raphael G. Warnock delivers the eulogy for Rayshard Brooks' funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

Former President Obama invited Warnock to deliver the closing prayer at the 2013 Inaugural Prayer Service held at the National Cathedral and the sermon for the Annual White House Prayer breakfast in March 2016.

Warnock has referred to his campaign efforts as the "Rev Up the Vote" tour. He is recently divorced and has two children.

Protest-related arrests

Warnock was arrested during 2014 protests over GOP-led decisions not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

In 2017, he was once again arrested during peaceful protests over budget cuts to social programs that were being proposed by President Trump.

Progressive views

As his experiences with protest movements might suggest, Warnock is a progressive.

His campaign website lists reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights and climate change as some of his top issues.

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Warnock’s candidacy gained ground alongside the massive civil unrest that gripped the country throughout 2020, including outrage over the deaths of Black individuals like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police.

After Loeffler criticized the WNBA for dedicating its season to the Black Lives Matter movement, the team she owns – the Atlanta Dream – donned shirts advocating for Warnock.

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