The Georgia Runoff, Herschel Walker As Werewolf, And Hawaii’s Jacob Batalon
by Emil Guillermo
Now that Georgia has given the Democrats its 51st Senate seat, the news is good for the 50th state.
The Democrats will now have a real functioning majority and that means power. Dems will be able to move all appointees, judicial and non-judicial appointees, as well as tough policy matters, with a new sense of speed.
Also getting a boost in the leadership ranks is Hawaii’s Sen. Brian Schatz. Re-elected by more than 71 percentage points in November, Schatz is now deputy conference secretary as well as Chief Deputy Whip.
That’s the difference winning Georgia makes.
And Georgia happened because people took notice of Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
There are an estimated 133,000 AAPI voters in Georgia, but as this runoff shows, we can help coalitions win big politically.
Just watching the results come in on TV, you could feel the excitement of the race between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
I know, sounds strange, a senator and a football player. The TV graphics couldn’t keep up with the drama.It was Warnock at the jump, but then at 5:42 pm Pacific, Walker goes up by about 9,000 votes and takes a 50.2% to 49.8% lead.
Republicans could be heard around the U.S. saying, “FREEZE THAT!”By 6:12 pm, Warnock had come within less than 1,000 votes and it was tied with Walker at 50%.
Oh no–we don’t want another runoff!
By 6:20 pm, with 79% of the vote, Warnock was back on top by 32,000 votes, to take a 50.6% lead to Walker’s 49.4%.
That’s how it would go all night. People often disdain the horserace coverage, but this was the horserace in real time. It showed the importance of every vote.
Walker would take back the lead when more same-day votes from rural areas, with white, less educated, more Trumpy voters, gave the football player support.
And then Warnock came roaring back when all the Atlanta area votes, the Black votes, and the suburban Atlanta votes were counted.
By the end of the night, with 100% of the vote in, 3,518,244 votes were counted, according to the Georgia Secretary of State website on election night at 9:54 pm Pacific.
Warnock had 90,134 more votes, 1,804,189. Or 51.28%. Walker had 1,714,055, or 48.7%.
Democracy won. We didn’t need another runoff!
By Dec. 7, the final count grew to Warnock with 51.37% of the vote (1,816,096).
Walker had 48.63% and 1,719,483 votes. A 102, 041 vote margin. Shows you just what a precarious situation our country is in.
Walker, a handpicked Trump celebratory clone whom even Dave Chappelle has called “observably stupid,” should have lost by several hundred thousand votes given all his negative qualities.
Instead Walker, who should have been rejected as a candidate in the first place, came within 102,041 votes of the U.S. Senate.
That’s not much of a margin between Rev. Warnock, a pastor at MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Walker, the known philanderer, abortion hypocrite, and alleged domestic abuser.
But that’s how necessary it was to get as many of those 133,000 AAPI voters as possible. Data from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund exit poll showed that AAPI support for Warnock grew from 60.1% in November to 78.1% in the runoff.
That’s almost equal to the margin of the Warnock victory.
The AALDEF poll also indicates AAPI voters were motivated in the runoff by health care issues and abortion access. Warnock needed us and we showed up as part of the coalition of voters who made democracy work few weeks ago.
Walker managed to acquit himself by doing a very non-Trumpy thing. He conceded. That should be a thing among Republicans, but since Trump, it hasn’t been. Walker was a good loser. He showed humility. He even thanked his wife, Julie, who he said has “been through a tough time.”
Understatement of the year.
And then Walker said, “I don’t want any of you to stop dreaming. I don’t want you to stop believing in America. I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and in our elected officials.”
It was a humbling moment you wouldn’t have seen from Walker’s mentor, Donald Trump, who has been silent since the last of his big bets in the midterm elections crashed and burned. What a day for the twice-impeached former president. On the day his company, the Trump Organization, was convicted of tax fraud, the last of his top eight hand-picked midterm candidates goes down.
By comparison, Warnock showed why he was the night’s ultimate choice. He said the people have spoken and said “a vote is a kind of prayer, for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. Voting is faith put into action.”
He spoke about his MLK roots, John Lewis, and his own mother: “She grew up in the 1950s in Waycross, Georgia, picking somebody else’s cotton, and somebody else’s tobacco. But tonight, she helped pick her youngest son to be a United States Senator.”
It spoke of the journey all BIPOC communities have made to be part of this country and to enter spaces where heretofore we would not have been welcome.
Warnock had our back. If you’re going to win in a diverse America, you’d better not forget us. The Warnock blueprint? He made sure his message got to AAPI voters in translated ads in Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Korean. In his election night speech, Warnock said, “I just want you to know I see you.”And Warnock really did.
Maybe now so will others in the political realm. Because AAPIs were a big part of the coalition that gave Democrats their 51st vote in the Senate.
AAPI voters were that margin of victory.
Anti-Walker Omen–Reginald The Vampire?
And then again, maybe there was a Hawaii reason that Warnock won.
Last week, President Obama added to the list of why Herschel Walker was unfit for public office.
Obama mocked Walker saying the footballer was talking about issues of great importance to Georgia and the nation “like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf.” To which Obama confessed he had that debate himself when he was seven.
“As far as I’m concerned,” Obama said, “He can be anything he wants to be except a United States Senator.”
Obama got laughs, but immediately, I wondered whether Obama was making it all up. Walker talking vampires or werewolves?
“Yeah, I was watching a stupid movie late night,” Walker said about a movie on vampires in a TV news clip. “Let me tell you something I found out. A werewolf can kill a vampire. Did you know that? So, I don’t want to be a vampire anymore, I want to be a werewolf.”
Yes, we don’t mind a little joking around. But this is for real.
The sad thing is Walker is more credible on this issue than he is when he parrots the anti-Biden talking points handed to him by Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
Walker is only sincere when he says he wants to be a werewolf. And that choice is clearly wrong.
You’ve got to be a vampire. Have you seen “Reginald the Vampire”?
Filipino Vampire Star
The star of “Reginald the Vampire” is a bald, fat and unlovable Filipino American character who works at a slushie store, and who in an unusual set of circumstances, becomes both loveable and a vampire.
A Filipino American Vampire? I am drawn to this show more than your new season of HBO’s “The White Lotus.”
And it’s all because of Jacob Batalon, the guy who plays Reginald.
I am admittedly late in the game singing the praises of Batalon. Forgive me, I love “Spider-Man,” but I got lost in the franchise somewhere around Kirsten Dunst.
So I missed the emergence of Batalon as the bestfriend of Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man, and didn’t realize the young actor was a “thing.”
Batalon is what you’d call a plus-sized Filipino from Hawaii, who in real life loves his loco moco and ukulele.
This year, by accident, while watching the World Cup, there were numerous ads heralding a show with a bald, fat Asian guy. And of course, that always perks up my interest. Then I find out he’s Filipino, and the star.
I only know general stuff about vampires. They hate garlic. Filipinos love garlic. But the metaphor of a Filipino vampire works for me. We look forever young and never age. But Batalon is also different by being a fat vampire. The organization of vampires must want him out.
And that’s what makes Reginald so endearing. He’s a nice guy trapped by his fangs. He just needs your blood.
And he looks like you or your cousin. (Maybe because he is. Batalon went to Damien Memorial High and Kapi’olani Community College before heading to New York to study acting).
And now he’s Reginald and I’m hooked.
The show’s on the SyFy channel on Wednesdays. And, coincidence of coincidence, Batalon and I share the same birthday. On top of that, it’s created by a guy I knew from college.
To Harley Peyton and Jacob Batalon, a toast of my reddest, thickest, homemade cran-beet juice, for their show and the runoff.
We know who won election night in Georgia. And it wasn’t the werewolves.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and wish you a Merry Christmas on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.
EMIL GUILLERMO is an award-winning journalist and commentator. In Hawaii, he was on the editorial board of the Advertiser and a columnist for the Star-Bulletin.