UPDATED: 4:20 p.m. ET, Jan. 6, 2021 —
Following the historic win of Raphael Warnock to become Georgia’s first Black Democratic Senator, Democrat Jon Ossoff was declared the winner of his Senatorial race against Republican incumbent David Perdue on Wednesday.
Ossoff’s and Rev. Raphael Warnock’s win guarantees Democrats party control of the Senate where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have authority to cast the tie-breaking vote.
Ossoff thanked his supporters and the voters of Georgia in a video on Wednesday prior to the race being called.
Rev. Raphael Warnock is projected to beat Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler to become the first Black U.S. Senator from Georgia following an intense runoff campaign and close election Tuesday night. Warnock’s win pushed Democrats closer to possibly gaining control of the Senate pending results from the state’s other Senate runoff election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and incumbent David Perdue.
The win for Warnock, 51, also makes him Georgia’s first Democratic Senator in 20 years and the nation’s 11th Black U.S. Senator.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported there were about 300,000 more voters in the runoff elections than during the general election last month. That’s due in no small part to Stacey Abrams, the voting rights champion whose ground game of organizing voter drives and other events designed to encourage civic participation in the democratic process has been paying off since November.
He and Loeffler squared off in the runoff election after neither of them secured 50% of the vote in the general election in November. The runoff campaign exposed Loeffler’s association with white supremacist groups as she desperately tried to smear Warnock with unfounded racist dog-whistling conspiracy theories and below-the-belt attack ads.
Both Senate runoff races were neck-and-neck Tuesday night with the Democrats and Republicans seemingly swapping leads each time a new county and precinct reported its latest batch of counted ballots.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow accurately pointed out the significance of Warnock’s win for Black people, in particular.
After all of the Republican-led controversy over the 2020 elections results — in particular, those in Georgia — it was noteworthy that there were no reports of any voting irregularities on Tuesday. Donald Trump and a dwindling group of his supporters have maintained without proof that he was the victim of election fraud.
Abrams, who fell victim to voter suppression during her failed gubernatorial campaign in the 2018 midterm elections, told CNN that she had cautious confidence that the runoff races would be absent of any comparable issues.
“I think we continue to make progress,” Abrams said. “Now, let’s be clear, we have not fully eliminated voter suppression in Georgia or across the country, but we have made dramatic strides, from even June and certainly 2018.”
DeKalb County, a Democratic stronghold, has reportedly returned the largest number of ballots.
There were expected to be about 3,000 absentee ballots along with about half of the estimated 60,000 in-person Election Day votes that will still need to be counted Wednesday. But Warnock was able to cross the 50% threshold early Wednesday morning with 98% of the votes counted, securing his runoff election victory.
There is plenty at stake with the Senate runoff elections.
Underscoring the urgency of the elections, Democrats will not be able to have as much power in the Senate if their candidates lose Tuesday. If they win, it would give Democrats as many Senators as Republicans, allowing Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote.
It could literally mean the difference between another round of [perhaps larger] stimulus checks after citizens witnessed a Republican-led Congress drag its feet for months with the current deal that has been decried as not being nearly enough.
The campaigning leading up to the election was plagued by misinformation and threats of violence — two forms of voter suppression — including physical harm against voters and poll workers alike.
The Senate runoffs, like Georgia’s general election, were largely expected to be decided by Black voters. Exit polling from November suggested there was an opportunity for even more Black voters to participate, something that would favor Democrats.
In addition, the number of absentee ballots requested — more than a million — could also bode well for Democrats.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.