Opinion Editor and National/World Editor
Georgia voters elected Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock on Jan. 5 to serve as the state’s newest Senators, beating out Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler conceded her race on Jan. 5, and Perdue conceded the day after.
The Associated Press (AP) called the Warnock-Loeffler special election race late on Tuesday, with Warnock receiving 51 percent of the 4.4 million votes cast; the AP later called the Ossoff-Perdue special election on Wednesday, with Ossoff winning 50.3 percent of the vote. Both Democrats led in absentee votes, winning more than 54 percent of nearly three million mail-in ballots. The state will not hold recounts for either election, as both candidates cleared the 0.5 percent margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.
The race for both Senate seats turned into a runoff election when no candidate attained 50 percent of votes during the general election on Nov. 3. According to The New York Times, Perdue reached just 49.7 percent of the vote in the regular election; Ossoff trailed behind him with 47.9 percent, a margin of about 88,000 votes. In the 20-candidate special election, Warnock received 1.6 million votes (32.9 percent) compared to Loeffler’s 1.3 million (25.9 percent). In November, both races received the highest voter turnout in Georgia history — out of 4.9 million votes cast in November, Ossoff received 2.4 million, the most votes for a Democratic candidate in the state’s history.
Warnock will be Georgia’s first Black Senator, and Ossoff will be Georgia’s first Jewish Senator, as well as the youngest current US Senator at 33 years old. Both Democratic candidates needed to win their respective elections in order to flip the Senate. Democrats and Republicans now split the Senate 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote to give Democrats the Senate majority. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will be the new Senate majority leader, replacing Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). With Democrats controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate, president-elect Joe Biden will likely have a better chance of passing legislation through Congress.
The regular election pit Perdue, a businessman first elected in 2014, against Ossoff, a former film producer and investigative journalist. In the special election, Warnock, a pastor, beat out Loeffler, a businesswoman, and will serve out the remaining two years of retired Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term, who stepped down for health reasons in 2019.
In Georgia, voter tensions ran high, as the state was a major tipping point for turning the Presidential election in Biden’s favor. Biden secured an 11,779 vote victory in the state, but President Trump has pressured top Georgian election officials to throw out votes and overturn Biden’s victory.
(Sources: AP, NY Times, Reuters)