Ebenezer pastor Raphael Warnock enters US Senate race


ATLANTA (AP) – The Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, challenging recently appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler.

With his well-known pulpit at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Warnock immediately brings some Democratic star power to the race – the kind that seemed to evaporate after former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams declined to enter it last year.

Warnock announced via video on his campaign website.

Loeffler was recently appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to replace three-term GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down in December because of faltering health. The wealthy businesswoman and political novice will have to defend the seat in a November special election for the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.

Warnock is the third Democrat to announce his campaign for the seat. Ed Tarver, a former federal prosecutor who served as U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District under President Barack Obama, confirmed earlier this year that he’s running. Matt Lieberman, the son of former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, announced his run in October.

Kemp chose Loeffler despite a preference by President Donald Trump and his conservative allies for Rep. Doug Collins, a Trump loyalist and top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who announced on Wednesday that he will run against her this year.