Waves of bitter attack ads are dominating Georgia’s airwaves as the runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker enters its final week.
Even with control of the Senate already secured, the stakes are high as Democrats seek to secure a majority outright instead of the power-sharing agreement currently in place. That has led to candidates and allied outside groups waging a fierce battle for the final seat, spending millions of dollars, launching personal attacks and leaning into divisive debates as the December 6 runoff approaches.
“Is it just me or does it feel like we’ve been here before? The whole country’s finished voting, and only us left,” Warnock observes in a new ad, featuring a familiar beagle – a commentary on the last runoff in Georgia, from which he emerged victorious. He goes on to say that Walker “repeats the same lies, trying to distract from what we all know is true about him.”
Walker, meanwhile, launched a new spot over Thanksgiving week that features a college athlete criticizing participation policies for transgender athletes.
“Warnock’s afraid to stand up for female athletes,” Walker says in the ad.
Outside groups have also ratcheted up the intensity of the attacks. Georgia Honor, a Democratic super PAC, launched an ad highlighting domestic abuse allegations against Walker and reporting that Walker paid for a woman’s abortion.
“Decades of violence against women,” the ad warns. “Now, an ex-girlfriend says Herschel Walker used the threat of violence to force her to have an abortion.”
Georgia Honor also went up with an ad focused on abortion, a winning issue for Democrats in the midterms.
“On December 6, our rights are on the ballot. Herschel Walker wants a total ban on abortion nationwide,” the ad warns.
Meanwhile, Senate Leadership Fund, a top Republican super PAC, has fired back at Warnock, launching an ad that claims “a low income apartment building tied to Senator Raphael Warnock is filing eviction notices against residents.” The ad also criticizes Warnock and President Joe Biden for “reckless spending” that “keeps driving up inflation.”
Senate Leadership Fund announced plans to spend over $14 million on the runoff, helping Walker mitigate an otherwise significant advertising gap with Warnock and his Democratic allies. So far, the group has spent about $11.5 million.
Overall, candidates and groups from both parties have combined to spend $57.7 million on the runoff, including future reservations through December 6, according to AdImpact data. Democrats are outspending Republicans by about $37.4 million to $20.2 million so far.
Warnock is the top advertiser, at about $18.1 million, while Walker has spent about $6.4 million.
Warnock’s fundraising strength has contributed to his significant advertising edge. According to the candidates’ latest filings with the FEC, Warnock raised over $50 million from October 20 to November 16, while Walker reported raising about $20.9 million in that same time period. As of November 16, Warnock had about $30 million in cash on hand, while Walker had about $9.8 million.
While SLF’s spending has helped to close the gap between the candidates, it has been offset by Georgia Honor, the Democratic super PAC, which has also spent about $14.4 million.
The battle over the airwaves comes as Georgians head to the polls. As of Monday morning, 181,711 Georgians had voted in the runoff, according to data from the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
More than 166,000 of those voters cast their ballots in person, including more than 70,000 on Saturday and about 87,000 on Sunday.
While some counties offered early voting last week or over the weekend, Monday was the first day that counties are required to offer in person early voting.
CNN’s Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.