Warnock makes history with Senate win in Georgia as Dems near control

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

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

The focus shifted to the second race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff. That contest was still too close to call Wednesday afternoon, although Ossoff publicly claimed victory. If Ossoff wins, Democrats will have complete control of Congress, strengthening President-elect Joe Biden’s standing as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20.

A sweep in Georgia would mean a 50-50 tie in the Senate that could be broken by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Democrats hold narrow majority in the House of Representatives.

Warnock’s victory is a symbol of a striking shift in Georgia’s politics, where Republicans had long been dominant. It follows Biden’s narrow victory in November, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

Warnock, 51, acknowledged his improbable victory in a message to supporters early Wednesday, citing his family’s experience with poverty.

“The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said. “Tonight, we proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.”

Loeffler declined to concede in a brief message to supporters shortly after midnight, when the margin of Warnock’s lead was less than 1 percentage point.

“We’ve got some work to do here. This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election,” insisted 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, D.C., 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,” Loeffler 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.

Perdue held a lead of 3 percentage points after midnight, but a late flood of votes released by Democratic strongholds early in the morning put Ossoff ahead by a few thousand votes with more than 98% of the expected vote already counted. Analysts gave the edge to Ossoff because the uncounted votes would be coming from areas that lean Democratic. Ossoff’s lead grew to about 17,000 votes shortly after noon on Wednesday.

Trump’s ongoing claims of voter fraud cast a dark shadow over the runoff elections, which were held only because no candidate hit the 50% threshold in the general election. He attacked the state’s election chief on the eve of the election and raised the prospect that some votes might not be counted even as votes were being cast Tuesday afternoon.

Republican state officials on the ground reported no significant problems.

This week’s elections mark the formal finale to the turbulent 2020 election season more than two months after the rest of the nation finished voting. The unusually high stakes transformed Georgia, once a solidly Republican state, into one of the nation’s premier battlegrounds for the final days of Trump’s presidency—and likely beyond.

Both contests tested whether the political coalition that fueled Biden’s November victory was an anti-Trump anomaly or part of a new electoral landscape. To win in Tuesday’s elections—and in the future—Democrats needed strong African American support.

Drawing on his popularity with Black voters, among other groups, Biden won Georgia’s 16 electoral votes by about 12,000 votes out of 5 million cast in November.

Trump’s claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election, while meritless, resonated with Republican voters in Georgia. About 7 in 10 agreed with his false 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.

Election officials across the country, including the Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, as well as Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed that there was no widespread fraud in the November election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, where three Trump-nominated justices preside.

Even with Trump’s claims, 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.

In Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, 37-year-old Kari Callaghan said she voted “all Democrat” on Tuesday, an experience that was new for her.

“I’ve always been Republican, but I’ve been pretty disgusted by Trump and just the way the Republicans are working,” she said. “I feel like for the Republican candidates to still stand there with Trump and campaign with Trump feels pretty rotten. This isn’t the conservative values that I grew up with.”

But 56-year-old Will James said he voted “straight GOP.”

He said he was concerned by the Republican candidates’ recent support of Trump’s challenges of the presidential election results in Georgia, “but it didn’t really change the reasons I voted.”

“I believe in balance of power, and I don’t want either party to have a referendum, basically,” he said.

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10 thoughts on “Warnock makes history with Senate win in Georgia as Dems near control

  1. I like divided government as well. We’ll certainly see in two years with the midterms how people feel or if the makeup of the country has permanently changed the outcomes. Rejoice liberals. You get to go crazy for the next two years. On the bright side I guess I’ll get that $2k check after all, but I’m sure I’ll give it back with all the new hidden taxes that will be enacted.

    1. Divided government is a great idea when you have two sane political parties interested in a common goal of improving America with different liberal or conservative approaches.

      But the current situation is far more dire. You either support the Democrats because you like American democracy or you vote Republican because you’re OK with fascism. There is no middle ground, and the issue supersedes your thoughts on abortion or taxes or health care or anything else. Republicans can’t just pretend they tried to overturn the results of an election and pretend they’re a serious political party tomorrow.

    2. You are correct. Their is no longer a middle ground and I have always been a middle ground person. This country used to have people that in the majority that were either center, center left or center right with the key word being center. At that point negotiation was possible, but not anymore. You and I both feel passionate about what we believe in, but we no longer have enough in common to compromise. I think it’s sad that the country is so divided and to blame it all on Trump doesn’t recognize why he was elected in the first place. He just reflects back to us what were all thinking. Him going away and Biden being President changes none of that. You equating Democrats with democracy and Republicans with fascism makes my point. You get to call all the shots for a few years at least so we’ll see how it goes, but of course it it goes badly you’ll still blame it on Trump just like Obama always did with Bush.

    3. Taxes going up on the rich, Jeff. So sorry if that’s you. /S

      Of course, if it is, then you won’t be getting a check in the first place S/

  2. As to why we have nothing in common – it’s because there is no shared reality. One can sit in a bubble and consume Fox and it’s ilk and get a completely different world view than the one I experience. Little wonder people are so angry about Hillary and Obama and Biden – they’re told that non-stop, with no regard for how true it is or isn’t. Because an angry viewer will keep coming back for more, and that’s more money.

    And I would posit that’s a problem the right has more than the left, simply because the right wing news infrastructure is far, far larger and pervasive than anything on “the left”. (Anyone remember Air America?)

    And, no, the reply to that isn’t that all news other than Fox/Newsmax/OAN is left wing, fake news. That’s simply not the case. If you feel that way, you need to get out of your bubble, and fast.

    Also, Obama was elected into the back end of an economic crisis, and Bush was so unpopular that Obama even won the state of Indiana. Remind me what Obama had done so badly that Trump had to fix? I kind of recall things were sailing along … and when you look at the economic numbers, nothing Trump did made things better or worse from the trajectory that the economy was on.

    You can’t claim with any straight face that Obama demonized Bush to the level that Trump blamed Obama. Man, did Trump never forgive that joke at the White House press dinner… but to Trump’s credit, he rode that wave of hate to the White House. But that’s also Trump’s MO – he gets all the credit, but the blame is always for someone else.

    1. Quote: Remind me what Obama had done so badly that Trump had to fix? I kind of recall things were sailing along … and when you look at the economic numbers, nothing Trump did made things better or worse from the trajectory that the economy was on.

      You are delusional, Joe; pure and simple. Enjoy the next two years and hope like hell the country will survive that long. It’s looking dire.

  3. Don’t disagree with you about Trump and his ego. That’s what is destroying things now and his unwillingness to admit defeat and move on. If you think you lost unfairly then devote your time and money into proving it, but after you leave. I tend to disagree with you about the media and you left out the biggest Democratic influencers of this past election, “big tech”. Do you honestly think they are fair minded, even handed and had no effect on this election? You’ll never get me to believe that. Jack Dorsey wasn’t even trying to hide it. He’s like censor then apologize later. As you say, we have no shared reality and only listen to like minded voices. I used to be able to talk to my liberal friends and debate things and now we can’t even be friends anymore. I think that’s sad.

    1. No, I actually think they helped Trump. Because if any of the rest of us lied that much on a social media platform and posted such proven nonsense, we’d be banned.

      IMO Republicans are just fighting for the ability to tell untruths without consequences. They want to be able to yell fire in a crowded theatre no consequences. Private companies shouldn’t have to tolerate that.

    2. So, that bit about yelling fire and not wanting to deal with the consequences?

      Aging very well, sadly.

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