U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has raised more than $8.72 million from donors in California for his re-election bid — 73% more than the $5.03 million he’s collected from his home state of Georgia, according to Federal Elections Commission records.
Warnock, whose campaign against Republican former football star Hershel Walker is seen as crucial to Democrats’ attempt to maintain control of the Senate, has amassed a $112 million war chest thanks largely to out-of-state contributions. (New Yorkers have contributed $4.69 million to his campaign so far.)
And he also leads the pack in 2022 campaign donations from individuals in the TV/Movies/Music sector with nearly $1 million raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Entertainment industry donations to the former Atlanta church pastor have outpaced those of another Hollywood favorite — Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona — by nearly a half million dollars.
Warnock’s high-profile Hollywood donors include Norman Lear, Debra Messing, JJ Abrams, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Heather Thomas, Wendie Malick, Mark Ruffalo and John Leguizamo.
They’ve helped the senator, who also serves as senior pastor at Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, build a campaign fund that vastly overshadows Walker’s, which stood at $31.7 million as of the last FEC reporting period. He holds a slight lead in the most recent polls.
The disparity is so dramatic that Walker made a plea for money from his supporters in his closing statement after a televised debate against Warnock on October 14. The candidate, an anti-abortion-rights conservative, has struggled since reports that he paid for his pregnant then-girlfriend to get an abortion in 2009 (a claim he has denied).
Warnock holds a slight lead over Walker in recent polls, though most fall within the margin of error. His lead has also seen a slight increase, from 2.1 percentage points to 4.1 percentage points in the political site FiveThirtyEight’s polling average of the race since the Walker abortion scandal broke.
Given all the controversies surrounding Walker longtime Los Angeles Democratic political consultant Kerman Maddox said he is surprised that Warnock’s lead isn’t larger.
“GOP voters in Georgia seem more interested in power than fundamental issues of ability, honesty, integrity and character,” Maddox said. “Hershel Walker is the African American version of Donald Trump, and that’s troubling for a nation that’s trying to stay together.”
Warnock became Georgia’s first black U.S. senator in 2021, defeating Republican challenger Kelly Loeffler by more than 93,000 votes as the two candidates fought to finish GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. Isakson retired from the Senate at the end of 2019 as he battled Parkinson’s disease, and died in 2021.