From xxxxxx <[email protected]>
Subject ‘There’s Never Been Anybody Like Him in the United States Senate’
Date August 6, 2022 1:23 AM
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[“There is a road that runs through our humanity,” Raphael
Warnock says, “that is larger than politics, bigger than partisan
bickering, certainly bigger than race, bigger than geographical
differences … Our job is to build out that road!”]
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Michael Kruse
August 5, 2022
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_ “There is a road that runs through our humanity,” Raphael
Warnock says, “that is larger than politics, bigger than partisan
bickering, certainly bigger than race, bigger than geographical
differences … Our job is to build out that road!” _

Raphael Warnock, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)


DALTON, GA. — In the middle of a community center gym in the
northwest corner of this state that is the epicenter of American
politics stood the Reverend Senator Raphael Warnock. Flanked by red,
white and blue balloons, the Democrat campaigning here in staunchly
Republican terrain looked out at a small but supportive crowd of Black
and white faces. Wearing wire-rim glasses and a trim navy suit, his
bald head not quite as shiny as his gleaming brown shoes, the preacher
politician made his case for re-election with a sermon on the
transcendent power of pavement.

“Infrastructure is spiritual,” he said.

“I believe in this so much that something really unusual happened
… something that I didn’t see coming,” he said. “The
Warnock-Cruz amendment.”

The people in the bleachers seemed confused. But he had their

“Talkin’ about — yeah — _Ted Cruz_.”

Now they groaned.

“I will confess,” he continued, “most days I’m sitting there,
and he’s talking about what he does, and I’m thinking to myself,
‘Now, I know why _I_ get up in the morning …’”

Now they laughed.

“_But_,” said Warnock, getting to the moral of this message
slipped into a stump speech, “we were passing the infrastructure
bill” — the $1.2-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill —
“and it turns out there was something he wanted to do, and
I _also_ wanted to do …”

Now audible was a murmur of recognition. “Senator Cruz stood up to
make his argument about why he thought we should do this, and then
came my turn,” Warnock said, “and then I heard myself say words
that I did not imagine hearing myself ever say. I said, ‘I would
like to associate myself with the remarks of the senator from Texas,
Ted Cruz.’ They couldn’t believe it — I think 30 or 40 of my
colleagues probably didn’t know what was _in_ the amendment, but
they said, ‘If he’s for it, and _he’s_ for it, we better pass
this thing.’ It passed unanimously.” And to this the still rapt
crowd responded with raucous applause.

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[[link removed]]

“My folks were asking, ‘Why would you work with him?’ Very
simple. Senator Cruz wanted to build out this road in Texas — called
I-14. Guess what? The same road that runs through Texas” — he
paused a beat before the reveal — “runs through Georgia. Connects
some of our military installations, and critical parts of this state
that could use the development,” Warnock said. “It goes through
communities that are largely red and communities that are blue. It
goes past,” he crescendoed, “people who worship at churches, and
temples and mosques — all have to get on the same road! Folks who
are going to work, and the folks those folks work for — all have to
get on the same road! In other words, if we build out the road,
everybody can get to where they need to go! _There is a road that
runs through our humanity_ …”

And now the people in the bleachers were congregants as much as
constituents, saying _yessir_, saying _mm-hmm_, talking back to
Warnock the way a Black Baptist pastor wants, giving him the political
equivalents of _amens_ and _uh-huhs_. I’ve watched over the years
countless candidates’ set-piece speeches — never, though, one that
deliberately elevated a pedestrian piece of _potential_ political
pork into a nearly holy totem of American democracy. In a recent week
of campaign events, official events and church events, it wasn’t the
only time I saw him do this, and it always conjured something
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey told me earlier this summer
when he called to talk about Warnock: “There’s never been anybody
like him in the United States Senate.”

Neither has there ever been a race like the race he’s running right
now. Warnock, of course, is facing Herschel Walker
[[link removed]],
the former football player and University of Georgia star — not only
pitting two Black men for a seat in the Senate, itself a matchup that
is vanishingly rare, but two Black men who present a contrast that’s
almost impossibly stark. Warnock — the first Black senator from
Georgia and the first Black Democrat in the Senate from the South, and
not just a pastor but the pastoral heir of Martin Luther King Jr. at
Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church — has made his life’s work a
response to systemic racism. Walker has all but denied racism’s
existence. Warnock as an orator arguably has few peers. Walker at
times struggles
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And while Warnock has some scuffs to his sheen — a contentious
divorce, an arrest from some 20 years back, controversial snippets
from pulpits and pages from his decades of scholarship — Walker’s
catalogue of flaws
[[link removed]] includes
lies, allegations of domestic violence and a history of a personality
disorder that made him consider killing a man and also risk killing
himself. Polls of late
[[link removed]] suggest
Warnock has a small lead, but a polarized and anxious national mood,
an uncertain economic environment and a midterm cycle that appears to
favor the GOP have made a toss-up out of a contest that shouldn’t be
close. And the stakes are high. It could catapult Warnock into another
echelon of national importance. It could decide the balance of power
in the Senate. It could help determine the country’s very tenor and
direction for a generation to come.

In 2020 and (in the run-off that extended into the first week of)
2021, Warnock won with the mantra to “remain the reverend” — a
campaign that combined a faith-based social-justice heart with a
careful prebutting of Republicans’ race-laced attempts to cast
Warnock as radical by calibrating a benign look and vibe. He wore a
puffer vest. He was in ads showing him walking a dog (that wasn’t
his) on the sidewalks of identifiably suburban streets. He presented
the even keel that’s been a Warnock hallmark from the time he was a

This time, though, according to more than 50 interviews with
officials, insiders and operatives from both parties and campaigns,
Warnock is doing all that and then some — running in a way that’s
every bit as disciplined but in a year that’s considerably more
difficult. After earning by two points the last two years of the late
Republican Johnny Isakson’s term, Warnock is a low-ranking member of
an often stalemated, 50-50 Senate from a mostly riven, more-or-less
50-50 state. While continuing to push for voting rights even as
Democrats’ signature bills have been stopped and stalled — the
franchise has been the most elementally important issue for Warnock
forever — his legislative efforts and accomplishments have focused
on lowering the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs,
investing in infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing, and
prioritizing seniors, farmers, servicemembers and veterans and the
lower- and middle-class Georgians he most conspicuously aims to serve.
He talks about Covid relief in terms of “tax cuts.”
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talks about other spending bills in terms of “jobs, jobs and
jobs.” And he seldom so much as says the name Joe Biden —
frustrating foes trying to tie him in ads to the deeply unpopular
president. “He is a very gifted politician,” Stephen Lawson, the
head of a pro-Walker Super PAC, told me — a compliment not
necessarily meant to be. “We fully understand,” Lawson said,
“that he’s going to be very difficult to unseat.”

More broadly, though, the way Warnock has operated in the last year
and a half in the Senate as well as the way he’s vying now for a
full six-year term are natural extensions of the tensions that have
animated his life and his work — the “double-consciousness” of
the Black church, as he describes it in the 2014 book
[[link removed]] drawn
from his doctoral dissertation, the “complementary yet competing
sensibilities” of “revivalistic piety and radical protest,” the
saving of souls and the salvation of society, what King called “long
white robes over yonder” and “a suit and some shoes to wear down
here.” In strictly political terms, this tension and connection
might be expressed as purity versus pragmatism. And for Warnock, ever
the reverend, the balancing act between the high and the low, the
eternal and the utterly quotidian, sometimes means taking a
run-of-the-mill legislative compromise — one that doesn’t even
allocate any actual money for the asphalt — and attempting to frame
it as the apotheosis of our ongoing experiment of representative

“_There is a road that runs through our humanity_,” Warnock said
again at the lectern in the gym, “that is larger than politics,
bigger than partisan bickering, certainly bigger than race, bigger
than geographical differences … and my job as a legislator, and our
job as citizens, is to find our way to that road that connects us to
one another — so that everybody can get to where they need to go, so
that every child can have access to a good, quality education, so that
everybody can have affordable health care …”

Now the applause was so loud he barely could be heard.

“Our job is to build out that road!”

‘The politeness, the kindness, the nonviolent way of being in the

Warnock’s road starts in Savannah. He is, he sometimes says
[[link removed]],
the product of hard work
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Born on July 23, 1969, precisely five years and three weeks after
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law at the White House the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Warnock “never drank from a colored water
fountain,” never “used a colored restroom,” never “attended a
school assigned by the color of my skin,” as he writes
[[link removed]] in
his recent memoir
[[link removed]], _A
Way Out of No Way_.

The eleventh of 12 children, he grew up in Kayton Homes public housing
in an apartment with four bedrooms, a single bathroom and a set
of _World Book_ encyclopedias. His parents were Pentecostal pastors,
his father straining to make ends meet by selling to a steelyard old,
abandoned cars — but, “thanks to the assistance of the federal
government,” Warnock recalls
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“my family never lived outdoors, we never went hungry, and I never
missed out on an opportunity to learn.”

In preschool, he attended Head Start
[[link removed]], which aims to boost the early
education of underprivileged preschoolers — one of Lyndon
Johnson’s “Great Society” programs “that have given
America’s poor children a chance,” as Warnock has said
[[link removed]],
“and lifted poor Black children from the sunken places caused by
generations of willful racism.”

At Myers Middle School and Johnson High, where Warnock played the
baritone horn and was elected senior class president and voted “Most
Likely to Succeed,” he was “a free-lunch kid.” He was a
participant, too, in Upward Bound — another LBJ program offering
academic enrichment for poor students with the potential to be the
first in their families to go to college. The experience included six
weeks of college prep one summer at Savannah State and a field trip to
Atlanta to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social
Change, where Warnock stood, stared and got goosebumps reading
King’s words.

Back in Savannah, at the public library on Bull Street, he listened to
LP audio recordings of some of the civil rights movement’s mass
meetings. A favorite featured King’s sermon known as “A Knock at
Midnight” — in which he called on the church to be “the
conscience of the state” and to “speak and act fearlessly and
insistently” and “participate actively in the struggle for peace
and for economic and racial justice.” Warnock listened to it again
and again.

And in 1987 when it came time for college, Warnock consciously modeled
King, opting to attend his alma mater at Morehouse in Atlanta — the
small, all-male, historically Black institution with an ethos of not
only intellectual advancement but social action through leadership and
service. The president of Morehouse put a fine point on that charge
when we talked last month. “Leadership: How do you make it
happen?” said David Thomas. “Service: Who do you make it
happen _for_?”

Paying for school largely with federal Pell Grants and low-interest
student loans, Warnock was a psychology major and a religion minor. As
a freshman, he was chosen to be a speaker at a fall convocation. And
at the on-campus chapel named after King, he was picked by his peers
to be the president of the Chapel Assistants, a prominent group of
students aspiring to attend seminary.

“The seriousness that you see,” “the careful use of language,”
“the politeness, the kindness, the nonviolent way of being in the
world is the way he was as a student from the first day I met him,”
said Lawrence Carter
[[link removed]],
the longtime dean of the chapel and one of Warnock’s utmost mentors.
“He did not swear. He did not drink. He did not smoke. He did not
dress in a voguish way,” Carter told me. “And he’s the only one
I can consistently remember coming into the chapel library at the time
to study by himself. He would just sit there outside my office, and he
would sit there for long periods of time, and write and read, and
write and read.”

During Warnock’s junior year Carter got a call from the pastor of
Birmingham’s Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.

“John Porter was one of Martin King’s youth assistants at the
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery when Martin was the pastor
there and John Porter was a student at Alabama State,” Carter told
me. “So John Porter called me and said, ‘Dean, I want you to
select for me one of your best students to be my summer intern. Put me
in touch with him and we will bring him down and we’ll take good
care of him during the summer and give him a lot of experience. Do you
have anybody in mind?’ I said, ‘I certainly do.’ He said,
‘What’s his name?’ I said, ‘Raphael Gamaliel Warnock.’”

‘When preachers tell the truth, it makes people uncomfortable’

“It’s good to be in church this morning,” Warnock said.

We were a little more than a mile from Ebenezer, in a ballroom off the
lobby of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, but this was a broad convening
of African Methodist Episcopal clergy at a Turner Theological Seminary
alumni breakfast. Warnock was the keynote speaker. And we were most
assuredly _in church_.

“I’m a living witness that the prayers of the righteous avail
much,” he said from the lectern on the dais. “And I need your
prayers as I continue to do battle with beasts at Ephesus.” The
crowd was stirring. “I’m a United States senator, but I have not
forgotten — in fact, I know now better than ever — that we wrestle
not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities,
against spiritual wickedness in high places, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world.” Now nodding. “And if my people” —
clapping — “who are called by my name, would humble themselves and
pray — pray with your lips _and_ pray with your legs — seek my
face, turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, I
will forgive their sins, and I will heal the land.” The crowd was

“AME church, you were born trying to heal the land. You were born
fighting for freedom. You were born bearing witness against the heresy
that racism and Christian identity are reconcilable,” Warnock said.
“We were born, the Black church — and when we say the Black
church, we have never, ever meant anything racially exclusive about
that — in fact, we were born bearing witness, against segregation,
and against bigotry.” _Amens _and _uh-huhs_.

“Talkin’ about the anti-slavery church. Lucretia Alexander, former
slave, said in her testimonials that the preacher would come — that
is, the missionary preacher — and he preached the same sermon, she
said, every Sunday. ‘Don’t steal your master’s hogs. Don’t
steal your master’s chickens. Do whatsoever your master says.’ She
said, ‘But later at night.’ She said, ‘We’d have a real
meetin’, with some real preachin’. It is no accident,” Warnock
said, “that the first Black United States senator was an AME
preacher named Hiram Revels. I stand on his shoulders, and it is in
that moral tradition that I seek to do my work. I am a product, not of
the AME church, but of you in a larger sense — the Black church, the
anti-slavery church.”

The church in which Warnock was forged. After Morehouse, in New York
City at Union Theological Seminary, he found a new mentor and adviser
in James H. Cone — “the father of Black liberation
theology,” according to Warnock
[[link removed]],
“and one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.”
In his third year at Union, Warnock took from Cone a course based on
his book about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in which he compared
the different approaches of the movements they led — “the two main
resistance traditions in African-American history and culture,” in
the words of Cone
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“integrationism and nationalism” — but also emphasized the ways
the civil rights icons moved toward each other toward the respective
ends of their assassination-ended lives. “As important as black
nationalism is for the African-American struggle, it cannot be the
ultimate goal,” wrote Cone
[[link removed]].
“The beloved community” — King’s famous phrase — “must
remain the primary objective for which we are striving. On this point
Martin was right: ‘For better or worse we are all on this particular
land together at the same time, and we have to work it out

Warnock earned master’s degrees in both divinity and philosophy
before beginning his doctorate in systematic theology. His master’s
thesis, which received the highest grade, a “Credit with
Distinction,” was called “Churchmen, Church Martyrs: The Activist
Ecclesiologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr.”
— King and the German Lutheran “pastors,” in Warnock’s
[[link removed]],
“who pushed the boundaries of the church” and “refused to be
confined to the academy.” What that meant for Warnock was becoming
an intern minister at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church — led by
the renowned activist pastor, and fellow Morehouse man, the Rev. Dr.
Calvin O. Butts III, and the former home, too, of the late Adam
Clayton Powell Jr., the first Black congressman from New York, who
legislated in Washington for 26 years but never stopped returning to
Harlem to preach to his flock. Throughout the 1990s, as Warnock at
Abyssinian stair-stepped from intern minister to youth pastor to
assistant pastor, he “moved,” as he puts it in his memoir
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“between the ivory towers of Union and the ebony trenches.” In
1999, he was arrested for the first time — protesting the police
shooting of the 23-year-old unarmed Black man named Amadou Diallo.

Six years later, at the age of all of 35, after just four years as the
senior pastor at Baltimore’s Douglas Memorial Community Church,
Warnock became just the fifth senior pastor in the
more-than-century-long history of Atlanta’s Ebenezer — having
wowed the congregation with a kind of trial sermon in which he knitted
together two passages of scripture in Matthew 17. “The Power on the
Mountain and the Pain in the Valley,” he called it, preaching about
[[link removed]] “the
high spiritual encounters we have in church and the work we are called
to do in the world,” “the relationship between worship and
witness,” “the mountain high and the valley low.”

Ever since, from what is one of the country’s most important
pulpits, Warnock has spoken out against voter suppression, the war in
Iraq, the overincarceration of Americans but especially Black
Americans, and the death penalty — “state-sanctioned murder,” in
his words, and “the final fail-safe of white supremacy
[[link removed]].”
He wore a hoodie in the pulpit after the killing of Trayvon Martin. He
was arrested at the state Capitol
[[link removed]] and
again at the U.S. Capitol
[[link removed]] protesting
for access to affordable health care. He hosted an interfaith meeting
on climate change with former Vice President Al Gore. He was the
spokesman and then the chair of Stacey Abrams’ New Georgia Project.

And although Warnock never technically endorsed Barack Obama in 2008,
he was an ardent proponent of the candidacy of the first Black
president, calling him “the answer to Ebenezer’s prayers” and
“the embodiment of the American dream.” When Obama’s pastor just
about derailed his historic bid — “God damn America,” the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright said in the incendiary clip
[[link removed]] —
Warnock was an ally. Obama might have saved his White House bid
by condemning Wright’s remarks
[[link removed]] as
“a profoundly distorted view of this country.” Warnock, on the
other hand, defended Obama by defending Wright — by asking Americans
to think harder about what Wright had said and why. And he did it on
Fox News.

“We celebrate Reverend Wright,” he told Greta Van Susteren, “in
the same way we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the Black
church, which when preachers tell the truth, very often, it makes
people uncomfortable. And I think that the country has been done a
disservice by this constant playing, over and over again, of the same
sound bites outside of context. And we’ve seen this before.
Sometimes we are miseducated by playing the sound bites of people whom
we appreciate and adore — Martin Luther King Jr., for example. Over
and over again, we hear certain speeches — ‘I have a dream.’ But
I would remind your listeners that Martin Luther King Jr. was a great
patriot indeed, but the same Martin Luther King Jr. who had a way of
saying _my country ‘tis of thee_ said that America is _the
greatest purveyor of violence in the world today._ He said the
judgment of God is upon America. He was working on a sermon …”

Van Susteren tried to cut in.

Warnock was undeterred.

“… prior to his death, which he never got a chance to preach

“Reverend,” Van Susteren said.

Warnock kept talking.

“… entitled ‘Why America may go to hell,’” Warnock said.
“Those are the words of Dr. King.”

“No one in American history has addressed more eloquently or
advanced more effectively the ideals of freedom, justice and equality
than the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Warnock in
2012 wrote in a foreword
[[link removed]] in
a book of King’s sermons. “His epoch-making impact on law, public
discourse and culture is all the more stunning when one considers that
he was a private citizen who never ran for public office and never
held any official role within government.”

And yet here he was now, a decade later, at the Marriott Marquis in
Atlanta, at the Turner alumni breakfast, the Reverend Senator Raphael

“Praying lips. Praying legs,” Warnock said again.

“That’s why a preacher decided to get involved in the messiness of
politics,” he said. “I’m trying to help save the soul of
America. That was Dr. King’s motto. Redeem the soul of America.”

‘Democracy is the political enactment of a spiritual idea’

Warnock formally introduced himself to his new colleagues in his
maiden speech in March of last year. The eleventh Black United States
senator ever, he told them he has a seat that was held when he was
born by a staunch segregationist. He told them his mother who “used
to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls in January and
picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.”

The speech
[[link removed]] is
worth reading or watching or listening to in full, but Warnock landed
hardest on the right to vote. “The right to vote is preservative of
all other rights. It is not just another issue alongside other
issues,” he said. “This issue — access to voting and preempting
politicians’ efforts to restrict voting — is so fundamental to our
democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate
rule, especially one historically used to restrict the expansion of
voting rights” — the filibuster. He called democracy “the
political enactment of a spiritual idea: the sacred worth of all human
beings, the notion that we all have within us a spark of the divine
and a right to participate in the shaping of our destiny,” he said.
He conjured the image of John Lewis
[[link removed]] on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the
Bloody Sunday beatings. “And we in this body would be stopped and
stymied by partisan politics? Short-term political gain? Senate

“He definitely has a mastery of oratory that few, if any other
senators,” Booker told me, “ever have come close to.” But
oratory of even the most pressing or impressive sort sometimes can do
only so much in the face of the scut work of actual change. The For
The People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — they
remain unpassed.

“He hasn’t done anything in the Senate since he’s been there,”
BJ Van Gundy, a Georgia GOP vice chair, told me. “I’m not
sure _any_ senator can claim that he’s accomplished anything,”
University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said.
“Tick off for me all the things this current 117th Senate has

What Warnock’s done, though, is what he can, and also what is pretty
much politically necessary in a hard cycle in a purple state. He’s
focused most on nuts-and-bolts problems like supply chain issues and
shortages of semiconductor chips and other “kitchen-table”
concerns. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, the Commerce
Committee, the Banking Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, and
the Special Committee on Aging, he’s zeroed in on gas prices and the
cost of prescription drugs and has positioned himself as a champion of
the recently passed CHIPS and jobs and competition bills. At times
bucking the Biden administration, he’s pushed for more student debt
relief and teamed with Republican congressman Buddy Carter of Georgia
to prevent the closure of a military facility in Savannah, with
Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama to try to help the peanut
farmers of Georgia
[[link removed]] and with
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to earn increased funding to
try to reduce maternal mortality. He has been measurably one of the
more bipartisan members of the Senate
[[link removed]].

“He is clearly trying to play this moderate role,” said Lawson,
the head of a pro-Walker Super PAC. “But he’s still sort of
lockstep with Biden and is seen that way. I mean, I think his voting
record with Biden is over 95 percent.” It’s 96.2.

“He’s focusing on bread-and-butter issues,” longtime Democratic
Senate aide Jim Manley said. “Warnock is almost singularly
responsible for just about every single person in this country getting
a $2,000 check in their bank accounts,” said Steve Phillips of
Democracy in Color. “Is that not delivering on economic issues?”

“I’ve never seen a senator be so effective so quickly,” said
Adam Jentleson, a former Democratic Senate aide and the author
of _Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of
American Democracy_.

“He’s been surprisingly effective,” Democratic Sen. Sherrod
Brown of Ohio told me, nodding to the unusual way he was elected,
resulting in a short-term window to do what is really long-term work
— and the reality that Warnock’s essentially been running for the
Senate, first to get in, then to stay in, for two and a half years

“And he’s worked with Ted Cruz,” Brown quipped. “I can’t say
I’ve done that.”

Interstate 14 currently is only in Texas and only 25 miles long, and
its completion is a long way off — but when the Cruz-Warnock
amendment passed, lawmakers couldn’t help but burst into applause.
“Miracles happen,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, citing the
“uncommon pairing.”

“Somewhere,” King once said
[[link removed]],
“there has to be a synthesis. I have to be militant enough to
satisfy the militant, yet I have to keep enough discipline in the
movement to satisfy white supporters and moderate Negroes.” Whereas
at the time the split in the country was more explicitly racial, it
now runs along more avidly ideological lines. “There must be
somebody,” King said, “to communicate to the two worlds.”

“We have to, I think, anchor ourselves in the story of folks
who’ve always fought a good fight,” Warnock said in a conversation
earlier this summer on C-SPAN with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of
South Carolina. “And I think we have to be willing to stretch
ourselves to create unlikely alliances,” he said, “in order to do
good work.”

‘We’re somewhere between January 5 and January 6’

Warnock, of course, was elected on January 5, 2021. “You sent me to
the Senate!” he said now to the crowd of Black and white faces in
Dalton in the rec-center gym. “Everybody wanted to talk to me the
next morning. ‘CBS This Morning,’ ‘Good Morning America,
‘Morning Joe’ — every show with ‘morning’ in it, I talked to
them. I knew I had arrived because I was on ‘The View’ talking to
Whoopi Goldberg,” he said to laughter. “So I was feeling good that
morning. The morning,” he said with a pregnant pause, “of January

The crowd got hushed.

“And so here’s where we are, folks,” Warnock said. “We’re
somewhere between January 5 and January 6.”

“This race,” Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of Black
PAC, told me, “should not be close.”

“The fact that it’s even a question,” said Phillips, “is

Out of the towers, though, and down in the trenches, it’s no sure

The oppo file on Warnock was used in 2020
[[link removed]] and
2021 and almost assuredly will be used again in 2022. Warnock was
arrested 20 years ago this month
[[link removed]] and
charged during a child abuse case with obstructing a police
investigation at a summer camp run by his church in Baltimore when he
tried to prevent a Maryland state trooper from interviewing youth
counselors without an attorney or their parents present. The charges
were dropped. A prosecutor called it a “miscommunication” and
said Warnock was
[[link removed]] “helpful
with the continued investigation.” In March of 2020, Warnock’s
ex-wife with whom he has two young children accused him of running
over her foot with his Tesla when he was pulling away to take their
kids to school. She told police Warnock is “a good actor” and
“putting on a really great show,” but paramedics found no
evidence of injury
[[link removed]] and
police did not charge Warnock with a crime. The contentious divorce,
which finalized two months after the incident, is now a contentious
custody dispute
[[link removed]].
Warnock, too, of course, is a professional talker, and he has compiled
several decades of public speaking from which conservative critics
might cull unflattering utterances of his well-established worldview.
“I don’t think economic growth always means opportunities for
everybody. In fact, sometimes economic prosperity can cause
problems,” he said to a local reporter back in May of 1989, when he
was a sophomore at Morehouse and a peer counselor in Democratic Gov.
Joe Frank Harris’ efforts to lower teen pregnancy. “We must stop
bowing down at the altar of capitalism,” he said in a speech in
Florida in 2006. In _Divided Mind_, the 2014 book drawn from his
dissertation, he writes of white churches’
[[link removed]] “complicity
and active participation in slavery, segregation, and other
manifestations of white supremacy.” In his sermons, hours upon hours
of which are archived online, people hear what they want to hear. When
will the Walker campaign start hitting Warnock harder? Said an
adviser: “Stay tuned.”

Walker, on the other hand, has lied about his educational
[[link removed]], his
participation in law enforcement and the FBI
[[link removed]], the
size and success of his business ventures
[[link removed]],
and the number of children he has
[[link removed]].
“He’s lied so much that we don’t know what’s true,” a Walker
adviser told The Daily Beast
[[link removed]].
“I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out,” he once told his
ex-wife, according to his ex-wife
[[link removed]].
He told an ex-girlfriend in 2012 that he was going to “blow her head
off” and then “blow his head off,” according to the
[[link removed]].
And in his 2008 memoir about his multiple personality disorder, he
writes about playing Russian roulette repeatedly, putting a bullet in
his gun and the gun to his head and into his mouth and sitting at his
kitchen table and pulling the trigger. He says he considered killing a
man for the late delivery of a car he had bought, fantasizing about
[[link removed]] “the
visceral enjoyment I’d get from seeing the small entry wound and the
spray of brain tissue and blood.”

Warnock is outpacing Biden and Abrams in Georgia in polls. He raised
$17.2 million in the last quarter
[[link removed]] — $11
million more than Walker. And these candidates’ records, or their
readiness for office, are not truly comparable, and it seems to me
Republicans know it. A year after trying to pitch Warnock as an
extremist, a Marxist or a communist — “the most radical and
dangerous left-wing candidate ever to seek this office,” former
president Donald Trump said at his rally here in Dalton the evening
before Warnock’s election — the GOP gambit now is to cast him more
as just another Democrat to try to turn the race into one not so much
between two people as the two parties. “We can sort of muddy the
waters,” said a GOP operative involved in the effort, pointing to
the harsh polarization that could mean that up to 48 percent of the
electorate on either side is set no matter what. “And there’s
going to be $300-plus million spent,” this person said, “to fight
over 4 percent.”

Warnock increasingly has needled Walker to commit to dates for debates
in the fall, but when he is asked about Walker, and he is asked about
Walker a lot, he always says essentially the same thing: “The people
of Georgia have a real choice” — the rhetoric of someone
“remaining the reverend.”

I watched Warnock drop by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in
Atlanta to announce $293,000 of Senate funding. It wasn’t
technically a campaign event, but really every event is a campaign
event in an election year. “Dr. King said it best. ‘We are tied in
a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all
indirectly,’” Warnock said. “So I’m going to continue to work
in a bipartisan manner to get things done for Georgia’s small

I watched him preside over a Senate field hearing
[[link removed]] in
a senior center in exurban Fayetteville about the cost of prescription
drugs and his call to cap drug costs at $2,000 a year. “We were in
our golden years, but the only people that were seeing gold were the
pharmaceutical companies,” witness Gretchen Spring of Marietta said
in her testimony about caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s and
having to max out credit cards and dip into pension funds. Warnock
asked her to say a bit more about her husband. “I do think it’s
important sometimes,” he said, “to put a human face on the public

“He comes to your area,” Georgia Rep. Debra Bazemore told me after
the hearing. “He comes, he sits, he listens.”

“The more we listen to Fayetteville, the better our chances of
getting it right in Washington,” Warnock said when I asked him at
the senior center why he had the hearing here and not on Capitol Hill.
“Too often our politics is about politicians, so I had this hearing
in Fayetteville for the same reason I return to my pulpit every Sunday
morning in my church to hear from ordinary people who are not drunken
by the waters of Washington, D.C.”

And in Dalton in the gym, I watched him tell the crowd of Black and
white faces about the Supreme Court confirmation of Ketanji Brown
Jackson. In the Senate chamber, he said, the vice president approached
Warnock and Booker and told them to mark the moment by writing a
letter, and she gave them her official letterhead to do it.

“I wrote a letter to a 5-year-old girl — my own daughter,”
Warnock said. “And I said, ‘Dear Chloe. Today we confirmed to the
United States Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. In the long
history of our country, she is the first United States Supreme Court
Justice who looks like you, with hair like yours. As we were
confirming her, the vice president of the United States suggested I
write a letter. By the way, in the long history of our nation, she’s
the first vice president who looks like you, with hair like yours. I
write just to say that in America you can achieve, you can be,
whatever you decide to be.’”

The crowd responded with a wall of applause.

“‘Love, Dad,’” he said.

“I wrote that letter to my daughter,” Warnock said, “but it
occurred to me days later that in the end that’s what legislation
is. It is a letter written to our children. That’s what public
policy is. At the end of the day, the public policy you would make, or
fail to make, is a letter to our children. And we could get more of it
right if we would ask ourselves each time, ‘What do we want that
letter to say?’”

_Michael Kruse is a senior staff writer at POLITICO and POLITICO

_Get _POLITICO's daily and weekly email newsletters covering the best
of politics and policy. [[link removed]]

* Rev. Raphael Warnock
[[link removed]]
* U.S. Senate
[[link removed]]
* Liberation Theology
[[link removed]]
* Black Churches
[[link removed]]
* Georgia
[[link removed]]

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