While Walker's campaign was consumed with controversy from the beginning, Warnock's once-sizable lead dramatically narrowed later in the year. In the Nov. 8 midterm election, Warnock and Walker came in just below the necessary 50% vote threshold required to win the race outright, forcing a Dec. 6 runoff.
The past month saw both candidates kick into overdrive in preparation for the unpredictable runoff, but as more scandal fell upon Walker, 60, it seemed to lose him votes, allowing Warnock to gain ground in multiple precincts.
Sen. Warnock, 53, has been down the runoff road before, as the same situation occurred in 2020. The reverend then won during round two in Jan. 2021. It was the first time since 2014 that Democrats gained control of the state, as 35-year-old Jon Ossoff also won for the Democratic Party that year.
Win McNamee/Getty Sen. Raphael Warnock
This race, however, was altogether different — in part due to the ever-escalating drama that nearly engulfed Walker's campaign in its final weeks.
Walker, a College Football Hall of Famer who played for the University of Georgia and was an NFL running back, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in August of 2021.
Megan Varner/Getty Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock
He quickly secured the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who called the former athlete a "friend, a patriot, and an outstanding American who is going to be a GREAT United States Senator."
As Walker's campaign wore on, the first-time candidate began courting controversy over comments such as those expressing skepticism about human evolution and creating his own, unscientific explanation for air pollution. He was also caught in a string of lies about things like his education, his employment history and COVID cures that he claimed to have at the start of the pandemic.
Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Herschel Walker
Walker's personal life has also been the subject of headlines.
In 2008, Walker wrote about having dissociative identity disorder. At the time, his ex-wife said that he had been violent toward her in their marriage, including holding a gun to her head — which CNN reported he did not deny, saying he had blackouts and memory loss and did not remember the episodes.
"I'm troubled by my actions and will always deeply regret any pain I've caused Cindy," he said at the time.
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In October, more of Walker's familial and relationship history made headlines when the Daily Beast reported that the anti-choice candidate had once paid for a woman to abort a pregnancy in 2009 — a claim he vehemently denied, telling Fox News' Sean Hannity in a televised interview he had "no idea" who the woman making the accusation was. Days later, the Beast was back with a new report, this time alleging that not only did Walker know the woman, but he also has a child with her.
A second woman, represented by prominent attorney Gloria Allred, then came forward with similar accusations — which he also denied — and released audio recordings of voicemails he'd left for her expressing his affection back when they were together.
The ongoing saga has sparked backlash not just from political pundits, but from Walker's own son, right-wing social media personality Christian Walker, who posted a series of tweets and videos saying his father should not be trusted.
Warnock, a pastor who rose to prominence at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s former church, made history in 2021 as the first Black senator to be elected from Georgia when he defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.