ATLANTA (AP) — Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock will face off in a televised debate on Dec. 6, the Atlanta Press Club announced Tuesday.
It's the first head-to-head debate scheduled between the two candidates in advance of their Jan. 5 runoff election in Georgia. Loeffler and Warnock's campaigns confirmed their attendance to The Associated Press.
Republican Sen. David Perdue will be represented by an empty podium during an event the same night, after Perdue declined to debate his Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff.
The twin runoffs in Georgia will help determine control of the U.S. Senate. A win by either Republican would seal the Senate majority for the GOP, while victories by both Democrats would yield a 50-50 Senate — giving Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
Warnock and Loeffler met in one previous debate before the Nov. 3 election, in which both candidates fell short of winning a majority of votes. That debate also featured four other candidates who failed to advance.
Warnock on Monday challenged Loeffler to meet in three debates before Jan. 5.
“This is an opportunity for Georgians to hear from their U.S. Senate candidates, and for Kelly Loeffler to explain why she’s voted to allow the anti-health care lawsuit to move forward even though it could end health care coverage for 1.8 million Georgians who have a pre-existing condition," Warnock spokesman Terrence Clark said in a statement, referring to Loeffler's support for GOP efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson said, “Senator Loeffler looks forward to exposing Warnock as the most radically liberal candidate anywhere in the country...”
In an interview with Fox News Channel on Monday night, Loeffler said of Warnock: "I welcome that chance to debate him as many times as he wants.”
Loeffler is a wealthy businesswoman who took office last year after being appointed by Georgia's governor to replace retiring Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. Warnock is pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.