Jewish Democratic group steps up spending in Georgia runoff

The Jewish Democratic Council of America will have spent a quarter million dollars to sway Jewish voters in the contest between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker

Rev.+Raphael+Warnock+seen+after+a+campaign+rally+in+LaGrange%2C+Ga.%2C+Oct.+29%2C+2020.+%28Tom+Williams%2FCQ-Roll+Call%2C+Inc+via+Getty+Images%29%C2%A0

Rev. Raphael Warnock seen after a campaign rally in LaGrange, Ga., Oct. 29, 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) 

By Jacob Kornbluh, The Forward

A major Jewish Democratic group is expected to extend its midterm investment in Georgia’s runoff election, a key race that could give the Democrats a clear majority in the U.S. Senate.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America political action committee will release two digital ads on Monday highlighting incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock’s relationship with the Jewish community and hitting Republican Herschel Walker on democracy. It is part of a $125,000 investment in the Dec. 6 runoff directly targeting more than 100,000 Jewish voters in Georgia.

One of the 30-second ads, titled “Stand Together” and shared in advance within the Forward, features two women representing the Jewish and Black communities and citing their support of Warnock “for his faith, honesty and devotion to democracy.” The other ad is footage from a Warnock speech on the Senate floor.

Warnock, who leads Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, led Walker, a former University of Georgia football star with a Jewish name, by 36,000 votes — less than 1% — in the Nov. 8 contest. But Warnock failed to get above the 50% threshold needed to win under state law. Jews made up 2% of the electorate in Georgia, according to data from the AP VoteCast survey, and they comprised 2% of the electorate on Election Day. A 2021 Jewish Electoral Institute survey showed that 54% identify as Democrats or said they were independents who lean Democratic.

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Halie Soifer, JDCA’s chief executive, said the get-out-the-vote effort  effort will also include canvassing and phone and text banks. It will add to the $120,00 JDCA already spent in the state during the midterm elections. In September, the group ran digital ads that targeted Jewish independents, warning about the danger of “MAGA Republicans” threatening U.S. democracy. “The Jewish vote will help to determine the outcome of the Georgia Senate runoff and make the difference,” Soifer said. 

JDCA is expected to recruit several Democratic stars to mobilize Jewish voters by appearing at the start of its virtual phone banks in the coming weeks. Among them are Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s governor-elect; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who defeated a Donald Trump-backed election denier; and Greg Landsman, a Jewish congressman-elect from Ohio. 

“The contrast between Sen. Warnock, a friend of the Jewish community and a champion of our values, and Herschel Walker, an unqualified extremist Republican, could not be more clear,” Ron Klein, JDCA national chair, said. 

The group also dedicated a page on its website with information on Warnock’s record on Israel.

The Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee is spearheading a similar effort, highlighting the Democratic incumbent’s support for Israel in digital advertising in local Jewish publications.

This story was originally published in the Forward. Click here to get the Forward’s free email newsletters delivered to your inbox.