Emil Guillermo: Warnock saw Asian Americans and helped people see the future of politics

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The big takeaway from Georgia? People are noticing us. Asian American Pacific Islanders.

In Georgia, we’re there. At an estimated 133,000 voters, we’re relatively small in number, but we can help coalitions win big politically.

I noticed that when I visited my daughter in Albany, not CA, but GA, as in Georgia hours from Atlanta. I loved going to the statue of Albany native son Ray Charles, who with a push of a button sings “Georgia On My Mind.”

It was on mine Tuesday night.

Just watching it on TV, you could feel the excitement of the Raphael Warnock vs. Herschel Walker Senate runoff.

When one race with national stakes to decide whether there would be a 51st Democrat takes place and there’s nothing on TV but the People’s Choice Awards, you’ve got to give the nod to the real people’s choice, democracy.

Is there anything more exciting than counting votes in a tight election? And there are no irregularities?! (Truth: Despite what MAGA types say, there rarely are.)

The TV graphics couldn’t keep up with the vote.

It was Walker at the jump, but then at 5:42 pm Pacific, Walker goes up by about 9,000 votes and takes a 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent lead.

Republicans could be heard saying, “FREEZE THAT!”

By 6:12 pm, Warnock had come within less than 1,000 votes and it was tied with Walker at 50 percent.

Oh no–we don’t want another runoff!

By 6:20 pm, with 79 percent of the vote, Warnock was back on top by 32,000 votes, to take a 50.6 percent lead to Walker’s 49.4.

And that’s how it would go all night. People often disdain the horserace coverage, but this was the horserace in real time.

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 percent 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 percent.

Walker had 1,714,055, or 48.7 percent.

Democracy won. We didn’t need another runoff!

But a 90,134 vote margin (it’s grown by about 5,000 on Wednesday) 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.

He should have been rejected as a viable candidate in the first place.

Walker lost but came within 90,134 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.

Shouldn’t have been that close.

As the count revealed, Warnock continually outdid himself in his key demographics, including AAPIs.

Data from the AALDEF exit poll showed that AAPI support for Warnock grew from 60.1 percent in November to 78.1 percent in Tuesday’s runoff.

Image by AALDEF

And the AALDEF poll indicates AAPI voters were motivated in the runoff by health care issues and abortion access. Warnock needed us. We were part of the coalition of voters who made democracy work on Tuesday.

Walker managed to acquit himself by doing the 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 thing 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 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 into spaces where heretofore we would not have been welcome.

And 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 and a real working majority in the U.S. Senate.

NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters 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

Image by AALDEF

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

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