Media Outlets Call Huge Georgia Senate Race for Democrat Raphael Warnock


Democrat Raphael Warnock won one of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs Wednesday, becoming the first black senator in his state’s history and putting the Senate majority within the party’s reach.

A pastor who spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Warnock narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

The Democratic win came after President Donald Trump made one of his final trips in office to Georgia to rally his loyal base behind Loeffler and the Republican running for the other seat, David Perdue.

Warnock said Wednesday he hadn’t yet heard from Loeffler but told CBS “This Morning,” “I’m hearing from the people of Georgia. People are feeling a sense of hope this morning.”

He noted that he grew up in public housing as one of 12 children and was his family’s first college graduate. “That I am serving in the United States Senate in a few days pushes against the grain of so many expectations but this is America and I want some young person who’s watching this to know anything’s possible,” said the Democrat, who was criticized by fellow black pastors for supporting abortion.

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Warnock overcame several troubling incidents in his past, including an alleged child abuse scandal at a church camp he presided over in Maryland and a nasty domestic dispute with his ex-wife, Ouleye Warnock. He also has a history of unpaid bills resulting in tax liens, according to reports this week.

In the second race between Perdue and Jon Ossoff, the Democrat held a very narrow lead, but it was too early to call a winner.

If Ossoff wins, Democrats will have complete control of Congress, strengthening presumptive President-elect Joe Biden’s standing as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20.

The Associated Press declared Warnock the winner after an analysis of outstanding votes showed there was no way for Loeffler to catch up to his lead. Warnock’s edge was expected to grow as more ballots were counted from Democratic-leaning areas.

With 97 percent of the vote reported, Decision Desk HQ showed Warnock with 2,111,934 votes (50.38 percent) to Loeffler’s 2,079,821 (49.62 percent).

Under Georgia law, a trailing candidate may request a recount when the margin of an election is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points.

Loeffler declined to concede in a brief message to supporters shortly after midnight.

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“We’ve got some work to do here. This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election,” said Loeffler, a 50-year-old former businesswoman who was appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the state’s governor.

Loeffler, who remains a Georgia senator until the results of Tuesday’s election are finalized, said she would return to Washington on Wednesday morning to join a small group of senators planning to challenge Congress’ vote to certify Biden’s victory.

“We are going to keep fighting for you,” she said, “This is about protecting the American dream.”

Georgia’s other runoff election pitted Perdue, a 71-year-old former business executive who held his Senate seat until his term expired on Sunday, against Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist. At just 33 years old, Ossoff would be the Senate’s youngest member.

Trump’s allegations of voter fraud in the November election cast a shadow over the runoffs, which were held because no candidate hit the 50 percent threshold in the general election. The president attacked the state’s election chief on the eve of the election and raised the prospect that some votes Tuesday might not be counted.

His fight against perceived voter fraud and irregularities resonated with Republican voters in Georgia. About 7 in 10 agreed with his assertion that Biden was not the legitimately elected president, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 3,600 voters in the runoff elections.

Even with Trump’s allegations, voters in both parties were drawn to the polls because of the high stakes. AP VoteCast found that 6 in 10 Georgia voters say Senate party control was the most important factor in their vote.

Even before Tuesday, Georgia had shattered its turnout record for a runoff with more than 3 million votes by mail or during in-person advance voting in December. Including Tuesday’s vote, more people ultimately cast ballots in the runoffs than voted in Georgia’s 2016 presidential election.

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