Each candidate in Georgia’s pivotal Senate race booked 60 seconds of ads at a cost of $100,000 during the showdown between Tennessee and Georgia.
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John Evans, 90, left, greets Senator Raphael Warnock during a campaign stop in Monroe, Ga., on Thursday.
Nothing quite holds an audience captive like a clash of undefeated college football behemoths. Senator Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker didn’t need reminding of that on Saturday.
Neither candidate in Georgia’s pivotal Senate race blinked at the $50,000 cost of a 30-second campaign ad during Saturday’s game between the top-ranked University of Tennessee and the third-ranked University of Georgia, according filings with the Federal Communications Commission.
Each of them booked two ads on Atlanta’s CBS affiliate, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee listed as sharing some of the cost of one of the ads supporting Mr. Walker.
On CBS in Atlanta, a 30-second ad during the pregame show or on Friday night prime-time cost $5,000; it was a thrifty $75 during the station’s “Wake Up Atlanta” show in the 5 to 5:30 a.m. time slot on weekdays.
Mr. Walker won the Heisman Trophy in the 1980s when he starred for the Georgia Bulldogs, which are the defending national champions in college football. Georgia beat Tennessee, 27-13.
The State of the 2022 Midterm Elections
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
- House Democrats: Several moderates elected in 2018 in conservative-leaning districts are at risk of being swept out. That could cost the Democrats their House majority.
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- Abortion: The fall of Roe v. Wade seemed to offer Democrats a way of energizing voters and holding ground. Now, many worry that focusing on abortion won’t be enough to carry them to victory.
In one ad for Mr. Warnock that he highlighted on Twitter during the game, three Georgia graduates conveyed their reverence for Mr. Walker’s accomplishments as a college football star, but said that was where the praise ended. One was wearing a jersey with Mr. Walker’s No. 34 and another displayed a football autographed by him.
“I’ve always thought Herschel Walker looked perfect up there,” said a man identified in the ad as Clay Bryant, a 1967 Georgia graduate, pointing to photos of Mr. Walker on a wall in his home.
“I think he looks good here,” another graduate said, gesturing to her jersey.
“I think he looks great there,” the third one said, sitting next to the football and a copy of Sports Illustrated with Mr. Walker on the cover.
“But Herschel Walker in the U.S. Senate?” the three asked critically in unison.
On social media, college football fans groused about being bombarded with attack ads run by the candidates and groups aligned with them, including dueling commercials that lobbed domestic abuse allegations at Mr. Walker and Mr. Warnock.
ImageSenator Lindsey Graham, left, campaigned with Herschel Walker in Cumming, Ga., in October.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times
Mr. Walker has been roiled by accusations that he urged two women to have abortions, despite campaigning as a conservative who opposes the procedure.
On the CBS affiliate in Savannah, Ga., Mr. Walker booked a 30-second ad during the game for $35,000, while Mr. Warnock reserved a 30-second block for $15,000. Advertising rates are typically higher for coordinated efforts between parties and candidates than for candidates on their own.
On the CBS affiliate in Augusta, Ga., Mr. Walker reserved a pair of 30-second ads during the game for $25,890, with the N.R.S.C. listed as helping to pay for one, according to federal filings. Mr. Warnock bought ads on the same station, but not during the game.
Mr. Warnock and Mr. Walker, who is backed by former President Donald J. Trump, were not the only bitter rivals in a close Senate race who invested heavily this week advertising around sporting events.
In Pennsylvania’s open-seat contest, the celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate, spent six figures to run campaign ads during the World Series featuring the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros.
Both candidates booked multiple ads on Fox’s Philadelphia affiliate at a rate of $95,000 for 30 seconds, according to federal filings. Mr. Fetterman also reserved 30 seconds of airtime during Thursday night’s National Football League game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Houston Texans.