It’s unclear whether voters in Georgia will actually get to see Republican Herschel Walker and Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock face off in person before the November general election. The AP reports that despite Walker’s acceptance of an invitation to debate Warnock, it’s not one of the three debate invitations that Warnock accepted.
Walker’s campaign said that the former football star accepted an offer to face Warnock in a debate on October 14 in Savannah. In Georgia, early in-person voting starts on October 17.
Walker told Fox News host Sean Hannity, “It is time that people see the difference. So on October 14, I want Sen. Warnock to be ready because I have accepted a debate, and now he can quit talking and show the people he’s going to stand behind his words and show up for the debate.”
The former NFL football player has claimed for months that he’s ready to debate Warnock, but recently his campaign has raised concerns about the fairness of the formats and moderators. Despite criticism from some Republicans, the GOP nominee skipped the debates during his easy primary victory.
Following months of negative media coverage, Warnock and Democrats have repeatedly portrayed Walker as unqualified and untrustworthy. Polls also show Warnock with a slight lead, putting even more pressure on the former athlete. Georgia is a critical state for Republican efforts to retake the Senate from Democrats, who also have 50 seats in the Senate only after Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff won runoff elections in January 2021.
Back in June, Warnock committed to invitations for three debates from WTOC-TV in Savannah, the Atlanta Press Club, and a group of news organizations in Macon.
Walker’s preference for a debate would be to conduct it before a live audience in Savannah, and the event would air on stations in six major Georgia cities. WSAV-TV reports that Walker says he will only participate in its debate. Warnock’s campaign has not accepted the WSAV invitation.
The AP reports Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks said, “Two months ago, Rev. Warnock accepted invitations to three well-established Georgia debates in Atlanta, Savannah, and Macon to be broadcast statewide, after Herschel Walker said he would debate Rev. Warnock anywhere, anytime. Nothing has changed.”
As of Wednesday, organizers are still moving forward with the Atlanta and Macon debates– with Warnock and Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver having accepted.