Sen. Raphael Warnock teased Georgia’s other Democratic senator, Jon Ossoff, about his youth during his talk at the Cobb County Democratic Committee’s annual Independence Day picnic over the weekend. Warnock observed how there are 100 senators in the Senate.
“And in an institution where everybody is ranked according to seniority, guess what my number is? 100. I’m as junior as you can get,” Warnock said. “In fact, I’m junior to young Jon Ossoff, and he’s only 19 years old. Don’t tell Jon I said that.” (Ossoff is 35.)
As Ossoff was seeking to oust U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, on the campaign trail in 2020, it was not unusual for Perdue to contemptuously dismiss him as “the kid,” but it’s clear Warnock refers to Ossoff’s youth with affection rather contempt.
Warnock told the Cobb Dems he and Ossoff entered the Senate at the same time, asking if they knew why Ossoff was senior to him.
“Because his last name begins with an ‘O’ and mine begins with a ‘W.’ Every now and then, I look at him out of the corner of my eye and say, ‘What an achievement,’” Warnock joked.
(In truth, the seniority is given to Ossoff because he was elected to a full, six-year term, while Warnock won a special election to fill out the remaining two years of Johnny Isakson’s term.)
“That’s my brother. We tease each other,” Warnock said of his colleague. “We work closely together in the Senate. And together we punch way above our weight. Because every time the chair of the committee says, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to give you that to bring back to Georgia, I don’t know. There’s some other senators who want the same thing. We’re not sure we can do that, Warnock.’ I say, You like that gavel? The people of Georgia put that gavel in your hands.’”
AFTER HIS TALK, the Journal asked Warnock what he had to say to Georgians who are feeling the pinch of gas, groceries and the overall cost of everything being more expensive.
“My work centers on the concerns of ordinary hard-working people,” Warnock said. “And it’s the reason why I called for a suspension of the federal gas tax in February. It’s also the reason why I’m pushing hard to cap the cost of insulin in our country, and in a state where 12% of the adults have diabetes, people are price gouging, the big pharma is price gouging insulin and other drugs. What we ought to do is cap the cost of prescription drugs in general.”
Warnock said he had a field hearing on the issue Friday.
“There’s no question that the oil and gas companies are engaged in price gouging. We got to hold them accountable. We’ve got to hold ocean carriers accountable who are seeing as much as a 2,000% increase in profit. So there are these short-term things that I’d like to do to take the pressure off of folks. Also, we passed in the American Rescue Plan a provision that we could use, not new money, but money we’ve already allocated to allow Marietta, Cobb County, Savannah, Georgia, different municipalities an opportunity to do a tax holiday on essential items. So as a pastor I see it. I know that people are feeling a pinch, and these are some short-term things we can do,” he said.
In the long term, Warnock said government must address supply chain issues.
“(Micro) chips are in everything from washers and dryers to cars, and we’re not making nearly enough in America, so I’m focused on correcting that. I’m looking forward to us passing this Jobs and Competition Act, the final version. That’s one of the best things we can do to address these long-term issues.”
And how, the Journal asked him, does he plan to beat Republican Herschel Walker in November?
“I’m focused on doing the best I can for the people of Georgia. And you know, I have spent my whole career focused on other people. That’s what ministry is. I think the worst thing you can do is to become focused on yourself. And obviously I think that’s what’s wrong with our politics right now. The politicians are focused on themselves and who’s up and who’s down, who’s in and who’s out. It’s going to be a long race between now and November. I think Georgians have a stark choice about who’s ready to represent them in the United States Senate and I look forward to that conversation,” Warnock said.
Another reporter asked Warnock how he is talking about race in the campaign, given that both Warnock and Walker are African American.
“I think when you see what Georgia did in 2020, sending its first African-American senator and its first Jewish senator to the Senate in one fell swoop, you see the arc of our country. And there are folk who are trying to push back against that. And what I intend to do is center the concerns of ordinary people all across our state, and I look forward to doing that work,” he said.
ON THE RIGHT: State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, author of Georgia’s fetal heartbeat law, which bans most abortions after six weeks, was among the speakers at the Cobb GOP’s Independence Day celebration Monday at Jim Miller Park.
With Roe vs. Wade now overturned, Setzler compared the moment to the British victory at El Alamein in World War II when Winston Churchill famously said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
According to Setzler, “The battle is just now really beginning. Because the last 49 years, if you think conservative politics has been tense, if you think the attacks against pro-life elected officials have been ugly and false, well you haven’t seen nothing yet, guys. Because the last 49 years the left … they’ve always been backstopped by this lie, by this falsehood, this ugly reality of Roe vs. Wade. With that backstop gone, it all comes down to state legislatures.”
With abortion left up to the states, now is the time to become involved in local politics, he said.
“I just want to challenge you guys today to leave here with the inspired joy that comes from winning a big victory that finally puts us in the game. It’s as if we’ve been fighting to get on the field in an SEC, Power 5 conference football game. We fought for years. We’re finally in a position to get on the field in that starting position to be able to move the ball and do things for our values, but guys, now is not the time to sit back and say we’ve won … Let’s get engaged like we never had before. Because what’s at play has never mattered so much. We’ve never had such an ability to influence things.”
Setzler also called on all Republicans to unite behind Gov. Brian Kemp in his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams.
“Our state, of the 50 governors in this nation, has the fifth most powerful governorship in the entire nation,” Setzler said. “If she ascends that and takes that role and has appointments over the Board of Regents and all the agency heads, guys, you do not realize the power she would wield. And I know her too well to take that lightly. I ask you to join me and join the folks in this room in supporting our governor. No matter how mad you may have been at things in the past, now is the time for us to come together, put Brian Kemp in the governor’s mansion and work like never before to elect conservative legislators ...”
Nathaniel Darnell of the Cobb County Republican Assembly, who spoke after Setzler, said the Georgia Republican Party’s platform states that “we believe it is our duty to protect life” and it also says “we believe that life begins at fertilization.”
“That’s the actual words it uses. And so we’re calling on Gov. Kemp and the Republican legislators to implement a bill in the wake of this recent Supreme Court decision that says that we are going to give equal protection to the preborn. That we’re going to make sure that no one can trample on the rights of anyone that is born from the moment of fertilization. They will be prosecuted and they will be legally protected from the moment of conception. That’s what we’re calling on Republicans to do.”