Who is Raphael Warnock? What to know about Georgia's first Black senator running for reelection

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Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock is running to secure a full term after he unseated an appointed Republican in a 2020 special election. Warnock, along with fellow Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, helped the Democrats win control of the Senate in an election cycle that saw the state flip blue for Joe Biden.

Now Warnock faces a GOP challenger who wields Georgia sports stardom and the support of former president Donald Trump. Herschel Walker, a former football star, coasted through the GOP primary last month to set up a face-off with Warnock in November’s general election.

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Who is Raphael Warnock?

Warnock made history last year when he became Georgia’s first Black senator after defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who had been appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 .

Before coming to Congress, Warnock, who is a reverend, served as the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once held the same role. Warnock was also late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis' pastor.

The senator had a prior history of political activism. He had been arrested twice for his participation in protests, USA TODAY reported.

In 2014, he was arrested during a demonstration in support of Medicare expansion in Georgia, and in 2017 outside the U.S. Capitol while protesting Trump’s tax cuts.

How old is Raphael Warnock?

Warnock was born on July 23, 1969. He is 52 years old. He was raised in public housing project in Savannah by his father, a veteran and preacher, and his mother, according to his campaign website.

What is Raphael Warnock’s policy platform?

Warnock outlines a medley of priority issues on his campaign site, including healthcare, which has featured heavily in his campaign TV ads. A central focus of Warnock’s work as senator so far has been Medicaid expansion in traditionally Republican-controlled states like Georgia. He contributed a provision to expand Medicaid in the stalled Build Back Better bill.

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The senator, who says healthcare is a human right, supports the creation of a public healthcare option, but is against forcing people to switch from their private health insurance, according to his campaign website.

Warnock also proposes hefty investment in public infrastructure, expanding federal voting protections, opposing tax breaks for the wealthy and immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

What are Raphael Warnock's views on abortion?

Like most Democrats, the senator supports abortion rights. He recently voted to codify the abortion rights guaranteed under the Roe v. Wade decision that stands to be overturned by the Supreme Court.

How does Warnock fare against Herschel Walker in the polls?

Polls show an extremely tight competition in the anticipated match up between Warnock and Walker in November. The latest RealClearPolitics average poll has Warnock trailing by half a point.

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Contributing: Sarah Elbeshbishi

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Raphael Warnock is running for Senate reelection.