A new tax credit for electric vehicles has become an issue in Georgia’s crucial U.S. Senate race — so much so that incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock rolled out a bill targeting it.
Democrats’ big climate, healthcare and tax package, which Warnock voted for in August, includes a revamped $7,500 tax credit for EVs, but South Korean auto maker Hyundai
and other car companies have objected to its requirements around North American battery sourcing.
It’s a problem for Warnock, who is running against GOP challenger Herschel Walker, because Hyundai earlier this year announced plans for a major EV plant in Georgia. Republicans such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp have criticized Warnock for the Inflation Reduction Act’s sourcing requirements, which could lead Hyundai to scale back its plans for its new plant in their state.
“It’s unfortunate that they read the bill after they pass it to figure out that they’re actually helping companies that aren’t in our state and hurting companies that either are or they will be,” Kemp said two weeks ago, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. The governor is running for re-election against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
Warnock, for his part, introduced a legislative fix on Sept. 29, saying in a statement that he’s “focused squarely on helping Georgia car buyers save money and helping car manufacturers who do business in our state thrive.”
His bill, which isn’t expected to become law before Election Day on Nov. 8, proposes creating a phase-in for sourcing and manufacturing requirements.
“Georgia auto makers need additional time to meet these new on-shoring requirements and bring planned domestic EV facilities online, including the forthcoming Hyundai EV facility scheduled to open in 2025 in Bryan County,” the senator said.
While Warnock’s rollout of his bill shows that he thinks changing the EV tax credit is important, experts say Georgia voters are putting more weight other issues.
“Most Georgians won’t even know about the tax credit issue, but a few that will, may either be indifferent, or get swayed towards Warnock,” Bernard Tamas, aprofessor of political science at Georgia’s Valdosta State University, told MarketWatch in an email.
“My impression is that this is a very minor issue except to those who might be directly affected by it, mainly those who work for the company,” said Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta.
“I don’t think most voters are even aware of this as it hasn’t gotten much media coverage or been featured in political ads.”
Georgia’s 2022 Senate race features Republican challenger Herschel Walker and Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.
This month, Georgia’s Senate race has been dominated by allegations from a former girlfriend of Walker’s that he paid for her to have an abortion, then later urged her to have a second abortion. Walker, an anti-abortion candidate, has vehemently denied her allegations.
The former football star’s chances of winning his Senate contest have tumbled, according to data from betting market PredictIt. They went from 52% as of Oct. 2 to 36% as of Monday.
Valdosta State’s Tamas said he thinks the race is “too close to call.”
“At this point, the Republican Party has to hope that the extremely negative news coverage that Walker is receiving will subside soon, or that the Republican turnout is higher than expected,” he added.
The two candidates are slated to debate on Friday.