Georgia Senatorial Candidate Raphael Warnock meet with his constituents at the Historic Dorchester Academy in Midway Nov. 22, encouraging his followers to get out and vote in the Jan. 5, Georgia Senate run-off race.
Warnock, a Democrat and Savannah native, said it was an honor to be standing in a place where the Civil Rights movement was born.
Dorchester Academy is known for being the place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other key figures in the civil rights movement prepared for “Project C” which would be later memorialized as the infamous Birmingham march, one of the first major victories in the Civil Rights movement.
Warnock, who said he grew up in public housing and worked hard to get where he is today, is the Pastor at MLK’s former congregation Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He is facing Republican challenger Kelly Loeffler.
Warnock became involved in politics as a leader in the campaign to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in Georgia. He said Loeffler and Senator David Perdue are seeking to remove sections of the healthcare act that would hurt people with pre-existing conditions.
“When they were trying to pass the Affordable Care Act, I wasn’t running for anything,” Warnock said. “I wasn’t thinking of running for anything. But I was preaching about it from my pulpit. And I was saying we ought to embrace this idea because health care is a human right. And it is certainly something that the wealthiest nation on this planet ought to be able to provide its citizens. When the state of Georgia refused to expand Medicaid, I stood up. We are now only one of 12 states that refused to expand Medicaid. Do you understand what that means? We pay that money in our federal taxes and rather than the money coming back to Georgia we are subsidizing health care in Illinois, New York, and California while our hospitals in our rural areas are closing.”
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island, said he made a special trip to visit Georgia to meet with Warnock and others about climate change and its effect on coastal erosion.
“Rhode Island has a lot of coast,” Whitehouse said. “I’ve been in Georgia learning about your coasts. I’ve been on Skidaway Island, St. Simons Island, Tybee Island, Sapelo Island, Brunswick, Savannah and here in Midway. What I am learning is the problems we have in Rhode Island along our coasts, with the sea water rising and taking away our land, you’ve got that just as bad right here. And I can’t fix that in Rhode Island if I can’t get Congress to move.”
Whitehouse said it was important for Georgians to turn out in big numbers and vote to keep the state blue to be able to get things done.
“This is a big deal in Congress,” he said. “How this (the race) turns out is a big deal.”
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson echoed the Senator’s sentiment saying that every vote matters in the upcoming run-off.
“We have work to do,” Johnson said. “We recognize that the first election means nothing if we can’t get it done in the second election. They counted us out but because you turned out and Liberty County did well, but it means nothing if we don’t do it again in bigger numbers.”
Johnson said he has yet to hear from anyone in Loeffler’s or Perdue’s office since being elected as Mayor 11 months ago.
“We want somebody to get to Washington and not forget about coastal Georgia,” he said.
“I just want to represent you and stand up for your families and children,” Warnock said. “I want to stand up for your children. I want to stand up for your seniors, so they don’t have to make the decision between their medicine or food. I want to stand up for our workers. It is wrong to call them essential workers and not give them essential pay. And I want to stand up for our planet because it is the only home we can leave for our children.”
Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber Director and First Congressional District Federation of Democratic Chair Sabrina Newby said she was excited about what she heard.
“They shared with us what they plan to do for the Coastal Georgia area,” she said. “People are hurting here in Coastal Georgia. These are unconventional times. We are experiencing a pandemic like never before. People are losing their jobs and we do believe that these two candidates (referring to Warnock and Public Service Commissioner run-off candidate Daniel Blackman, who attended the rally) will bring much needed change to our area.
First Congressional District Federation of Democratic Vice-Chair Lisa Thomas noted that, if elected, Blackman would be the first African-American Public Service Commissioner.
“I’m ecstatic,” Thomas said. “I’m ready to go vote right now. Early voting can’t get here fast enough.
Early voting begins Dec. 14. The last day to register for the run-off election is Dec. 7. Run-off election day is Jan. 5, 2021.