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Warnock, Ossoff Urge Young People to Vote in Senate Runoff at UGA Rally

Sen. Jon Ossoff (left) joined Sen. Raphael Warnock to stump for Warnock in his Dec. 6 runoff against Herschel Walker. Credit: Blake Aued

Sen. Raphael Warnock campaigned with his “brother by another mother,” fellow Sen. Jon Ossoff, at the University of Georgia on Sunday in an effort to turn out a key constituency for the Democrat—young people.

From women’s suffrage to civil rights to LGBTQIA equality, “There has been no major movement in our country without the intelligence and the passion and the insights and the impatience of young people,” Warnock told a crowd of about 300, mostly students, in a Miller Learning Center auditorium.

“I dropped by not to discourage your impatience, but to stir it up,” he said. “Because that’s how change happens.”

Both senators were elected by narrow margins in a January 2021 runoff, and “students in the state of Georgia were the crucial difference-makers,” Ossoff said.

They drew a parallel between Jan. 5, the date of last year’s runoff when voters sent Georgia’s first Black and Jewish senators to Washington, and Jan. 6, 2021, the day when, as Ossoff put it, the U.S. Capitol “was overrun by a violent mob hell-bent on preventing the peaceful transfer of power.” While Ossoff won a full six-year term, Warnock was running to serve out the last two years of the late Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.

Without those runoff victories, which gave Democrats control of the Senate, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson would not have been confirmed, and the infrastructure and climate bills would not have passed, they said.

Warnock touted his support for expanding Medicaid and legislation he wrote capping the price of insulin for seniors, and pledged to fight for abortion rights, workers’ rights, student debt relief and Pell Grants.

“When it comes to standing up for those who are on the margins of the margins, I’m the SEC champion,” he said.

Like many Georgians, the 53-year-old Savannah native grew up admiring his opponent Herschel Walker’s football exploits at UGA in the early 1980s. Walker was “an amazing football player, but we’re on a different kind of field now, and Georgia needs a true champion,” Warnock said.

“This is real life, y’all. This is not a game. Politics is not a game,” Ossoff said. “It’s life and death. Human suffering or human flourishing is on the line.”

When asked whether they’d already voted, most attendees raised their hands.

“If you’ve already voted, great work, you’re job’s not done,” said UGA student and Dawgs for Warnock president Austin Myhre, who urged them to each turn out three voters on Election Day this Tuesday.

Data from the Georgia secretary of state’s office shows that older voters 45 and up—a group that tilts Republican—turned out in far larger numbers than the left-leaning 18-29 and 30-44 demographics during early voting.

“I’m not about to give up on the young voters of this state,” Warnock said in response.

After the UGA rally, Warnock was scheduled to visit New Freedom Christian Center, a Black church on Vine Street in East Athens. As with young voters, Black turnout on Election Day will be crucial for Warnock’s chances, with post-Nov. 6 polls showing him with just a slim lead over Walker.