U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., has drawn the most well-known Republican challenger to date to his looming reelection bid next year.
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black entered the 2022 Senate race last Friday with a speech at the state Republican convention on Jekyll Island.
“Warnock and [President Joe] Biden promised to ‘fundamentally change America,’ ” Black told the delegates. “They’re five months into it and job growth and opportunity are down, inflation, debt and gas prices are up, [and] the Middle East is back at war.”
After heading the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Black was elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2010. He was reelected in 2014 and 2018, receiving more votes than any of the candidates for Governor or Senate.
During his tenure, Black has made “Georgia Grown” one of the most successful marketing efforts of its kind in the nation.
He helped lead efforts in 2018 to bring state and federal aid to South Georgia farmers hit hard by Hurricane Michael and worked with the Trump administration to steer money raised by tariffs on China to expand marketing efforts in Taiwan.
Other than Black, Warnock hasn’t drawn any Republican challengers with name recognition. Two who have entered the contest are Latham Saddler, an Atlanta banking executive, and Kelvin King, a small business owner and Air Force veteran from Atlanta.
However, one of the most powerful politicians in Georgia, Republican state House Speaker David Ralston, is considering a run for the Senate.
Other Republicans weighing a challenge to Warnock include U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter of Savannah and Drew Ferguson of West Point. Trump has urged University of Georgia football great Herschel Walker to give it a go.
Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and former Rep. Doug Collins, who clashed in a Senate race last year eventually won by Warnock, have decided not to run in 2022.
Biography of Gary Black
Gary W. Black has championed innovation, solutions, support, and growth in Georgia’s largest industry for over 40 years.
Gary grew up on his family’s beef cattle farm in Commerce, Georgia where he and his wife Lydia also raised their children, Ward and Caroline. He is a University of Georgia graduate, and a past president of the college’s alumni society.
Under Gary’s leadership, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s divisions for information technology, animal health, homeland security and food safety have garnered national acclaim. Commissioner Black has led innovation in domestic and international promotion through the renowned Georgia Grown branding program, helping Georgians start businesses and expand markets. Since taking office in 2011, Gary has also improved the department’s fiscal responsibility and performance, as well as strengthened career paths for employees.
Gary Black is a Leadership Georgia Pattillo Award recipient and the 2017 Georgia Trend Magazine Georgian of the Year. He currently serves on advisory committees for the United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Export Import Bank of the United States.
Gary and Lydia continue to raise commercial beef cattle at Harmony Grove Farms, and serve together in various ministries at Maysville Baptist Church.