In the span of two years, Democrat Raphael Warnock has bested his competition in four different Senate elections, either winning a plurality of the vote (in the Nov. 2020 and Nov. 2022 generals) or a majority in the subsequent runoffs (Jan. 2021 and Dec. 2022).
He’s raised a combined $300 million during that period — on par with what George W. Bush and John Kerry each raised in the 2004 presidential election, and what John McCain hauled in as the GOP presidential nominee in 2008.
Warnock’s 53 years old, and he represents one of America’s top battleground states.
Add them all up, and they make him one of Democratic Party’s brightest political stars, putting him in the presidential conversation the next time Democrats have a competitive presidential contest.
“Warnock has been quietly toiling away in comparative obscurity as he has had to gut out four tough victories in two years,” said Democrat Jennifer Palmieri, who served as communications director in the Obama White House and in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“As the magnitude of what he has achieved in a very tough state like Georgia sets in, there’s no question he will be considered a possible future presidential candidate the next time the Democrats have a competitive primary,” she added.
Being in the presidential conversation, of course, is different than being in the White House.
After all, other one-time bright stars in their respective parties hailing from battleground or intriguing states — like former GOP Govs. Scott Walker, Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie, or Democrats Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke — never came close to winning the presidency.
Time, scandal or other future stars sometimes get in the way.
Another potential obstacle for Warnock if he runs: Georgia’s governor gets to make an appointment to fill his Senate seat if he wins office. That means Warnock’s Senate seat could flip parties if a Republican governor — like Gov. Brian Kemp — appoints a fellow Republican to temporarily fill any vacancy. (That would definitely be a factor if there’s a competitive Democratic presidential race in 2024, but less so in 2028 when Warnock is up for re-election.)
And an additional obstacle for Warnock, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or any other bright star in the party is the presence of current Vice President Kamala Harris.
It’s still very early in the 2024 presidential race — and even earlier if you’re thinking about 2028.
But if there’s a conversation about Democratic stars who might run in the future, Warnock is definitely in the mix.