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National Democrat group backs Georgia's Warnock for Senate

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ATLANTA (AP) — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Friday endorsed the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, over two fellow Democrats in the Georgia race to challenge newly sworn-in Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

"When there is a call to serve, he answers with the moral clarity we need more of in Washington,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said of Warnock in a statement.

Warnock, 50, has also been endorsed by Georgia’s 2018 Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams.

The DSCC endorsement essentially declares Warnock the favored candidate of national Democrats. Abrams' support also carries great weight in Georgia, where she's among the state's most popular Democrats.

Loeffler was recently appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to replace three-term GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down in December for health reasons. A wealthy businesswoman and political novice, she now must run for the seat in a November special election for the remaining two years of Isakson’s term. The race won’t be filtered by party primaries, meaning that multiple Democrats and Republicans could be on the ballot.

Warnock announced his candidacy Thursday.

Republican Rep. Doug Collins jumped into the race a day earlier, posing a challenge to Loeffler from the right.

Two other Democrats in the race, Ed Tarver and Matt Lieberman, said Friday the DSCC's endorsement hasn't changed their plans. Tarver is a former federal prosecutor who was U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District under President Barack Obama. Lieberman is an Atlanta educator and the son of former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is backing Loeffler.

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