Georgia Runoffs: Democrat Warnock Wins, Tight Race for Other Seat
With his victory, Rev Raphael Warnock will become the first Black US senator from Georgia.
Democratic Senate candidate Rev Raphael Warnock has been projected to win the Georgia runoff election, defeating incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler, the US media reported on Wednesday, 6 January. According to the tally by the Associated Press, Warnock was leading with 50.5 percent of the vote share, over Loeffler's 49.5 percent, with 98 percent of the estimated votes reported.
With his victory, Warnock will become the first Black US senator from Georgia, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, the race for the second of the two Georgia runoff seats continued between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican opponent David Perdue, with media outlet AP saying it remained too close to call. At last estimate, Ossoff was ahead of Perdue by 17,000 votes. Ossoff however has already declared victory, claiming a win that will provide President-elect Joe Biden control of the United States' Senate, AFP reports.
Who is Raphael Warnock?
The senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church is also set to be the first black democrat elected from the Southern states. The 51-year-old spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church, where Martin Luther King Jr preached, The Indian Express reported.
He’s been vocal about issues like police brutality and voter suppression, as well as shown support for abortion rights. “I have spent my career and my time as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church trying to bring people together,” NYT quoted Warnock from an interview.
In his winning speech on Wednesday, he highlighted his impoverished childhood. The Indian Express quoted him, “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.”
All eyes are now on the other contest between Democrat Jon Ossoff and incumbent Republican David Perdue. The former has established a narrow lead with 50.11 percent of the vote share, as against the latter's 49.89 percent, with 98 percent of the estimated votes reported. Who wins the second contest will determine which party controls the Senate.
Why The Runoffs Matter
The voters in the 'Peach State' of the United States gathered on Tuesday to vote in the two crucial runoff elections.
With every ballot cast, the stakes remained high for both parties. Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate that would see them gain control through Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who would eventually cast a tie-breaking vote if the situation arises.
If Republicans win either race, they will continue to control the US Senate.
According to The New York Times, both the Democratic Senate candidates were winning a larger share of the vote in county after country than President-elect Joe Biden won in November. Biden was able to wrest control of the state from Donald Trump in the Presidential elections with a slim lead.
“Certainly, winning would ease the path for a lot of what the President-elect wants to get done,” a source close to the Biden transition team told CNN, adding, “But we intend to achieve bipartisan success regardless of the outcome in the runoffs.”
Significant Early Voting
Like the 2020 Presidential election, the Senate election, too, had significant early voting owing to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 3 million Georgians voted early – a record for statewide runoffs. It is being presumed that as in November, the counting of the early votes would delay the official election result.
If he were to bet on it, "I would anticipate it was going to be a couple of days," Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, had said.
(With inputs from AFP.)
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