The Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic nominee for one of Georgia’s Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, has been labeled “radical Raphael” by his Republican opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler. One person’s radical is another’s sensible, so it’s understandable that Democrats cry foul and that Warnock’s campaign is running television ads trying to dismiss Loeffler’s charges with a light touch. That doesn’t mean Loeffler’s argument is wrong.
Warnock holds the same position once held by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as the pastor of Atlanta’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church. He’s a quality candidate; if Georgia were a safe Democratic state, or even one that leans blue, such as Virginia, there’s no doubt he would win. But the Peach State is anything but that, and therein lies his problem.
Like many people who get into politics later in life, Warnock has said many impolitic things. His sermons often have touched on current events, and he unfailingly took a staunchly progressive line. Some of those are now the focus of Loeffler’s television ads: a statement that Americans cannot serve both God and the U.S. military; statements about the police that can be characterized as anti-police; a statement disparaging Israel’s protection of its border with the Gaza Strip as violence against Palestinians. Warnock understandably says that some of them were taken out of context or do not represent his full views, but it’s not hard to see why Loeffler brings them up, especially because when taken together they show Warnock is a pretty consistent progressive well to the left of Georgia voters. In that context, one might even say they are “radical.”
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.