How the WNBA Played a Major Role in Raphael Warnock’s Senate Triumph in Georgia
When the Reverend Raphael Warnock became Georgia’s first Black U.S. Senator, his history-making win in the state’s runoff election was delivered, in part, by an unexpected crew of heroes: The WNBA.
The story begins last summer, when Warnock was a long-shot Democratic hopeful polling at a mere nine percent against incumbent Republican senator Kelly Loeffler. Then Loeffler made a grave misstep. A co-owner of the WNBA team, Atlanta Dream, Loeffler issued a letter to the league opposing the Black Lives Matter movement — a movement that had garnered the vocal support of players from across the league including, conspicuously, her own team.
That’s when the “VOTE WARNOCK” tee shirts began showing up on WNBA players from teams across the country. Within days, the Warnock campaign raised nearly a quarter-million dollars and his Twitter following swelled by almost 4,000 followers.
But the league’s mobilization didn’t stop there. The Washington Post reports that Dream center, Elizabeth Williams, participated in a virtual “Warnock for Georgia” event in December. Her teammate Tiffany Hayes co-hosted a Georgia voter registration event last month. And throughout the fall, players from throughout the league took to social media to boost the Democratic hopeful. Even if that meant potentially jeopardizing their careers.
“Some might call [Loeffler] our boss, in a sense, and for you to go against your boss, it can go wrong in a lot of ways,” Hayes said in an interview, per the Washington Post. “I definitely commend all the girls, all of us, for stepping up and standing up, even though there could have been consequences.”
As the journalist Michele Norris put it in a Twitter thread, the players’ decision to support Warnock was “not an impulsive move.”
“The Dream had to carefully order their steps,” tweeted Norris. “[Seattle Storm point guard] Sue Bird reportedly suggested they look into Loeffler’s opponent. They researched…