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Who is Raphael Warnock? What to know about the Georgia Democrat seeking to defend Senate seat in runoff

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The Georgia runoff election set for Tuesday will be the final showdown between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Neither Warnock nor Walker received more than half of the vote needed to win the race on Nov. 8, triggering the runoff. Warnock had less than a one-point lead over Walker following Election Day.

This is the second runoff election Georgia has held in four years.

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More: Georgia runoff election could strengthen Democratic control of Senate

Democrats will maintain control of the Senate next year, but a win from Warnock would give them an additional seat, expanding the majority to 51-49.  An extra Democratic seat could mean additional committee seats and less worry for Biden that Democratic centrists Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia could hinder his progressive priorities.

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Here’s what to you need to know about Sen. Raphael Warnock:

Who is Sen. Raphael Warnock?

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., center, prepares to speak at a rally after being introduced by Civil Rights icon Andrew Young, left, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Atlanta.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., center, prepares to speak at a rally after being introduced by Civil Rights icon Andrew Young, left, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Atlanta.

Raphael Warnock, 53, was first elected to Congress in 2020 after winning a special election runoff to fill a vacant seat. He defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler for the seat by just two percentage points.

Born in Savannah, Ga., the senator has served as a pastor for over 16 years at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former church of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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What you need to know:Georgia’s Senate runoff between Warnock and Walker nears.

Warnock holds numerous committee assignments including Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science and Transportation; the Special Committee on Aging and the Joint Economic Committee.

What are his stances on key issues?

Warnock has dubbed himself a “pro-choice pastor,” according to his campaign website, and has criticized the Supreme Court for overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

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“The women of Georgia deserve a Senator who will stand with them,” he said during the sole debate against Walker. “I trust women more than I trust politicians.”

The Democrat has emphasized the need to fight for criminal justice reform measures while funding the police. He has highlighted the importance of focusing on relationships between police departments and communities.

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Warnock is an advocate for Medicaid expansion and capping the cost of insulin and prescriptions.

“Health care is a human right,” he said.

Takeaways: In sole Ga. Senate debate, Walker and Warnock spar on everything from policy to personal issues

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Warnock believes access to education shouldn’t depend on zip codes and has advocated to lower the cost of higher education, saying during a debate, “I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if it weren’t for low interest student loans and Pell grants.”

He has also fought for student loan forgiveness.

“I pushed the president to do student debt relief,” Warnock said. “He did $10,000 and with my urging, he did $20,000 for folks with Pell Grants.”

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How much has Warnock raised?

The senate race in Georgia is the most expensive race of the midterm season, according to OpenSecrets.

USA TODAY found Super PACs spent nearly $16 million more on Warnock than on Walker. During the runoff, super PACs spent around $40 million supporting Warnock, compared to the approximately $24 million spent backing his Republican challenger.

More: Super PACs spending $16M more on Raphael Warnock than Herschel Walker in Georgia runoff

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The money is mainly being used for TV ads and online communications.

In the leadup to Election Day, Warnock’s campaign brought in over $26 million from July to the end of September.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who is Raphael Warnock? What to know about Georgia senator in runoff

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