By Wednesday evening, Democratic U.S. Senate candidates the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock and Jon Ossoff were declared the projected winners in the twin U.S. Senate runoff races against incumbent Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
Warnock took a narrow lead over Loeffler after votes were tallied in DeKalb County shortly after 11 p.m. The result was called shortly after 2 a.m. by media organizations, including the Associated Press.
In the other runoff race, incumbent Senator David Perdue’s lead slipped away as Democrat Jon Ossoff surged ahead shortly after 1 a.m. At 8 a.m., Ossoff issued a statement declaring himself victorious over Perdue as the uncounted votes were in Democratic strongholds. The race would be called around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate,” Ossoff said earlier Wednesday.
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. However, the margins in both races were north of the runoff threshold.
Because Democrats won both Senate seats, the upper chamber would be divided 50-50, giving Vice President-elect Harris the power to cast tie-breaking votes.
Warnock, who serves as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, has become the first Black Senator elected from Georgia. He grew up in Kayton Homes, a public housing complex in Savannah, Georgia, in a large family that included his eleven brothers and sisters.
Fifteen years ago, in 2005, after obtaining his Ph.D. in divinity from Union Theological Seminary, Warnock was chosen to serve as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former pulpit of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
He was the youngest pastor selected to serve in that leadership role at the historic church.
From June 2017 to January 2020, Warnock chaired the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan organization focused on voter registration.
As he ended his chairmanship, Warnock announced his campaign in the 2020 special election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp in January 2020. She campaigned as a rubber stamp for President Donald Trump.
During the race, Loeffler and other Republicans often attempted to paint Warnock as a “Radical Liberal,” “a Marxist,” plus as a “woke Negro,” and an agent of socialism. Loeffler also attacked Ebenezer Baptist Church in a campaign ad that artificially darkened Warnock’s skin.
However, as the election progressed, Warnock continued to fight for social justice, criminal justice reform, and COVID-19 relief as he promised to bring a return on investment to Black and disenfranchised voters.
A number of leaders of the Democratic Party shared congratulatory messages to Warnock and Ossoff, including Stacey Abrams, with whom many credit for her tireless efforts to mobilize voters during this election cycle.
Abrams tweeted Wednesday. “Last January, I endorsed my dear friend (Warnock) in his quest to serve. Soon, he will walk those august halls & cast votes as a leader with courage, justice, and integrity. Ossoff will stand for all of Georgia in the fight for healthcare, jobs, and justice. And our nation will be all the better for having him.”
Nikema Williams, who serves as chairwoman of the state Democratic Party offered congratulations to both candidates.
“This is a momentous day in Georgia’s history, as Senator-elect Raphael Warnock will become the first Black man elected to represent Georgia in the Senate, and Senator-elect Jon Ossoff will become the first Jewish American to represent Georgia in the Senate and the upper chamber’s youngest member,” said Williams, who was also elected as US Representative for Congressional 5th District in the November elections.
“With Senators-elect Warnock and Ossoff in the Senate, we are one step closer to passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which both leaders have already said they support,” she continued. “I am confident that the American values they possess will allow Congress to govern in the best interest of the American people, and we will get past the legislative gridlock we’ve seen in the past four years.
In the end, Warnock, the son of a Savannah preacher and a graduate of Morehouse College, was elevated and supported by a Spelman College graduate, Stacey Abrams, and will sit in a U.S. Senate that will be presided by Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumnus.
Said Warnock in an address early Wednesday morning, “I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election.”