Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Raphael Warnock debate ahead of the Georgia runoff election.
Kelly Loeffler was born in Bloomington, Illinois and raised on her family’s corn and soybean farm in Stanford, Illinois. In 1988, she graduated from Olympia High School in Stanford, where she was in marching band, ran cross-country and track, and played varsity basketball.
In 1999, Loeffler graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in international finance and marketing from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. She financed her graduate school tuition by mortgaging land inherited from her grandparents.
After earning her MBA, Loeffler worked for Citibank, William Blair & Company, and the Crossroads Group. In 2002, she joined Intercontinental Exchange, a commodity and financial service provider, in investor relations. She married the firm’s CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher, in 2004. Loeffler was eventually promoted to senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications. In 2018, she became the chief executive officer (CEO) of Bakkt, a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange.
In 2010, Loeffler bought a minority stake in the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). In 2011, Loeffler and Mary Brock bought the team from Kathy Betty. Several players of the Atlanta Dream wore shirts endorsing Warnock in response to controversial comments Loeffler made about the Black Lives Matter movement.
In December 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to succeed Senator Johnny Isakson, who would be resigning for health reasons at the end of the month.
In the 1990s, Warnock served as the youth pastor and then assistant pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York.
In 2002, while senior pastor at Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland, Warnock and an assistant minister were charged with obstructing a police investigation during a suspected child abuse case investigation at a church-run camp in Carroll County, Maryland. Warnock said the alleged abuse was not sexual and denied any wrongdoing in trying to prevent a state trooper from interviewing counselors. He said he was only asserting that lawyers should be present during the interviews. One report indicated that he had confronted law enforcement to ensure that an adult was present while a juvenile suspect was being questioned. Police dropped the charges against Warnock.
In 2005, Warnock became senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr.’s former congregation. Warnock is the fifth and the youngest person to serve as Ebenezer’s senior pastor since its founding.
As pastor, Warnock advocated for clemency for Troy Davis, who was executed in 2011. In 2013, he delivered the benediction at the public prayer service at the second inauguration of Barack Obama. In March 2019, Warnock hosted an interfaith meeting on climate change at his church, featuring Al Gore and William Barber II.
Troy Anthony Davis was a 42 year-old African American man convicted of murder. He was executed for the August 19, 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia. MacPhail was working as a security guard at a Burger King restaurant when he intervened to defend a man being assaulted in a nearby parking lot. Seven witnesses testified they had seen Davis shoot MacPhail, and two others testified Davis had confessed the murder to them during the 1991 trial of Troy Davis Davis.
Warnock came to prominence in Georgia politics as a leader in the campaign to expand Medicaid in the state. In March 2014, Warnock led a sit-in at the Georgia State Capitol to press state legislators to accept the expansion of Medicaid offered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Warnock and other leaders were arrested during the protest. In 2015, Warnock considered running in the 2016 election for the United States Senate seat held by Johnny Isakson as a member of the Democratic Party. He opted not to run.
From June 2017 to January 2020, Warnock chaired the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan organization focused on voter registration.
In January 2020, Warnock decided to run in the 2020 special election for the United States Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed after Isakson’s resignation. He has been endorsed by Democratic Senators Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, and Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Stacey Abrams, and former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter.
Warnock supports expanding the Affordable Care Act. He has called for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
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