ATLANTA (AP) — Libertarian Chase Oliver isn’t going to win Georgia’s Senate race.
But the 37-year-old self-described former Democrat could command outsize national attention, influencing the election night outcome and potential next round in a highly competitive contest expected to help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate over the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term.
Oliver is the third name on the ballot in the marquee matchup between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
In most states, that make would Oliver an afterthought. But Georgia law requires an outright majority to win statewide office. With polls suggesting a tight contest between Warnock and Walker, it may not take a considerable share of the vote for Oliver to force a runoff. It’s a scenario that played out in Georgia’s two Senate races in 2020, both won by Democrats, giving their party the slimmest of Senate majorities — 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote.
The chance of an encore could be growing if Oliver’s level of support increases as Walker struggles to navigate his rocky past, including reports that the staunch anti-abortion Republican paid for the 2009 abortion of a then-girlfriend who later gave birth to their child.
“I do think that there are a lot of Republicans who feel like he’s not able to really be the best person to espouse the policies of limited government and keeping spending under control and lowering taxes,” Oliver said.