A standoff over debates for the U.S. Senate race in Georgia ended Tuesday evening after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) committed to squaring off with his opponent, Republican Herschel Walker, on a debate stage in Savannah in October.
Warnock’s decision comes after the two candidates sparred for months over debate logistics, ultimately leading to Walker pressing Warnock to meet him in Savannah, where Warnock has hometown advantage, for a debate with a live audience hosted by Nexstar.
“I’m not going to obey the demands of the elite press and the liberal establishment to stand in an empty room for a debate that’s supposed to be about the people,” Walker said in a video statement August 2, announcing he had accepted terms of the Nexstar debate.
Walker’s message came after Warnock in June announced that he would partake in three debates, hosted by the Atlanta Press Club, local outlet WTOC, and Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.
Walker did not initially respond to Warnock’s debate announcements, but eventually spoke out about his concerns with the debates, citing alleged political bias and the lack of a live audience. “Herschel has accepted an impartial statewide debate that’s for the people, not the partisan, elite Atlanta Press Club, which we now know is actually the Warnock-Biden Press Club,” Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise said in a press release on August 8.
“No wonder voters don’t trust politicians and their media friends. … We’re leaving the elite media behind and rejecting the partisan Press Club debate. And so should Senator Warnock. Instead, we have accepted a fair debate for the people,” Paradise said in reference to the Nexstar debate.
Walker said that Warnock needs to “put his big man pants on” and accept the Savannah debate, and that it “doesn’t matter what the topics are because he can’t win on any of them.”