Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both won Senate runoffs in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate.
Ossoff is projected to defeat incumbent Republican David Perdue in Georgia’s runoff elections, according to NBC News and CBS, giving Democrats a majority in the Senate.
Ossoff's victory came hours after Democrat Raphael Warnock prevailed over incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
The pair of Democratic wins in Georgia mean a 50-50 split in the Senate, effectively giving Democrats control of the chamber since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes.
Ossoff, at 33, will be the youngest member of the Senate when he is sworn into office.
Ossoff, a CEO of a London-based investigative documentary company, entered the national political scene four years ago when he narrowly lost a special election in Georgia 6th Congressional District in a race that drew national attention, making it the most expensive House election at the time. Perdue, 71, was first elected to the senate in 2014. Prior to being elected to Congress, Perdue was a businessman who worked for companies like Reebok, PillowTex, a North Carolina textile company and Dollar General.
- Nicholas Wu
Republicans: Trump rhetoric wasn't helpful
The Associated Press called the Georgia Senate runoff for Democrat Raphael Warnock, and as Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler trails Democrat Jon Ossoff, some Republican lawmakers faulted President Donald Trump’s rhetoric for the results of the races.
The second-ranking Senate Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, told reporters Trump’s rhetoric was “not helpful.”
The “mixed messages” about the November presidential election being rigged while encouraging voters to come out for the Senate runoffs meant “you had a lot of voters who were confused about whether or not their vote was going to matter," Thune said.
“It turns out that telling the voters that the election is rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he didn’t think Trump’s rhetoric was “very helpful,” noting how turnout for Perdue seemed lower than it had been in November, when Perdue had outperformed the president in some areas.
And Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told reporters Trump’s influence in the races was a “two-edged sword,” noting he had helped in some ways, but other “distractions” meant the campaigns couldn’t run with as clear of a message as he would have preferred.
But another lawmaker, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he would not fault Trump alone.
"I just think the whole environment was toxic, and I'm sorry to see it turned out the way it did. But when you run for office for your job, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he said.
Trump has railed against the results of the November election despite states’ certification of their results, alleging without evidence massive voter fraud against him.
Congress is set to meet to count electoral votes Wednesday.
– Nicholas Wu
Georgia election official says Ossoff is on pace to win, avoid runoff
A top Georgia election official said Democrat Jon Ossoff, who leads Republican David Perdue, is on pace to win by a great enough margin to avoid a recount as the state looks to finish counting most outstanding absentee ballots by 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said more than 60,470 absentee ballots remain uncounted, mostly in Democratic-leaning counties in the metro Atlanta area.
“It makes it look like Jon Ossoff will likely have a margin outside of the half a percent (threshold) to avoid a recount,” Sterling said. “And obviously, Rev. Warnock is ahead of him right now. So, if Ossoff avoids that recount so does Rev. Warnock.”
Under Georgia law, a recount can be requseted by a campaign when an election is decided by less than 0.5 percentage points.
Ossoff leads Perdue by 17,567 votes in a race the Associated Press says is still too early to call. Ossoff's current lead is 0.4 percentage points. Raphael Warnock, who leads Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler by more than 54,729 votes, is the projected winner in his race. He leads Loeffler by 1.24 percentage points.
Sterling said the Georgia secretary of state’s office requested all counties get their ballots tallied by 1 p.m., and he believes most will be able to do so. The bulk of uncounted absentee ballots are those that arrived on Election Day, he said.
“No evidence of any irregularities,” Sterling said when asked whether the election has seen any voter fraud. “The biggest thing we’ve seen is from the president’s fertile mind of finding fraud where none exists.”
– Joey Garrison
Joe Biden calls Schumer ‘majority leader,' says Georgia delivered ‘resounding message’
President-elect Joe Biden congratulated Democrat Raphael Warnock on “his groundbreaking win” and said he’s hopeful Democrat Jon Ossoff will also be victorious in the Georgia Senate runoffs.
Biden also appeared to acknowledge what Democrats hope will be their new majority in Senate by calling current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the new “majority leader.”
In his first statement on what appears to be a Democratic sweep in Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections, Biden Wednesday credited progressive activist Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, calling them “twin powers” who “laid the difficult groundwork necessary to encourage turnout and protect the vote over these last years.”
“Georgia's voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: they want action on the crises we face and they want it right now,” Biden said in a statement. “On COVID-19, on economic relief, on climate, on racial justice, on voting rights and so much more. They want us to move, but move together.”
Warnock, who leads Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler by more than 54,000 votes, is the projected winner in his race. Ossoff leads Republican David Perdue by 17,025.
Biden vowed to try to work with both parties “to get big things done for our nation.”
He called for “urgent action” on an additional federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, reiterating his position that the COVID-19 relief bill that passed Congress in December was “just a down payment.”
Biden also said he hopes to work with congressional leadership to move ahead quickly with approval of his Cabinet nominations after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
“My nominees for critical national security positions at State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security have bipartisan support and have been confirmed by the Senate before,” he said. “They need to be in their jobs as soon as possible after January 20th.”
Biden added: “After the past four years, after the election, and after today’s election certification proceedings on the Hill, it’s time to turn the page. The American people demand action and they want unity. I am more optimistic than I ever have been that we can deliver both.”
Schumer said in a Wednesday press conference he had talked to Biden Wedmorning.
With Democratic control of the Senate, "the ability of Joe Biden to move nominations forward will be easier," he said, adding that one of Senate Democrats' first priorities would be on passing $2,000 stimulus checks.
– Joey Garrison
Ossoff-Perdue race too close to call
The Senate runoff race in Georgia between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue is too early to call.
At 9:45 a.m. EST, Ossoff led by 17,025 votes out of nearly 4.4 million counted, a margin of less than 0.4 percentage points.
There were still some mail ballots and in-person early votes left to be counted statewide, the majority of which are in Democratic-leaning counties.
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. Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager, said at a Wednesday morning news conference Ossoff "will likely have a margin outside the half a percent to avoid a recount."
– Associated Press
Democrat Jon Ossoff declares victory in Georgia Senate runoff election
Democrat Jon Ossoff declared victory over Georgia Republican David Perdue in a Wednesday morning speech to supporters in Atlanta, calling for unity to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. No major news outlet has projected a win for the Democrat yet.
“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate," Ossoff said.
Raphael Warnock is the projected winner in Georgia's other Senate runoff race last night, meaning that if Ossoff's win becomes official, Democrats will begin President-elect Biden’s administration with control of both the House and Senate.
Ossoff currently leads Perdue by about 16,000 votes.
Perdue has not conceded the race. In a statement released last night, the campaign said they believed Perdue would still be victorious in the end.
– Nicholas Wu
Warnock wins Georgia race, Ossoff ahead
Democrats appear on the brink of taking control of the U.S. Senate with Raphael Warnock the projected winner over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Jon Ossoff leading Republican Sen. David Perdue in Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections.
Around 2 a.m. ET Wednesday, the Associated Press projected Warnock the winner over Loeffler after the Atlanta pastor built his statewide lead to more than 46,500 votes.
Warnock made history with his election win, becoming the first Black Democrat elected as a U.S. senator from a state in the South and only the 11th Black senator in the history of the nation. He becomes the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race in Georgia in 20 years.
“To everyone out there struggling today, whether you voted for me or not, know this,” Warnock said as he declared victory in a video from his home. “I hear you, I see you, and every day I'm in the United States Senate, I will fight for you. I will fight for your family."
Trailing much of the night, Ossoff surged ahead of Perdue by more than 8,500 votes after batches of votes from Democrat-heavy DeKalb County were released. Most uncounted votes remain in Democratic strongholds in the metro Atlanta area.
“When all the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election to represent Georgia in the United States Senate,” Ossoff campaign manager Ellen Foster said in a statement. “The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant."
The Perdue campaign was not ready to concede.
In a statement, the Perdue campaign said the race -- as they expected – is “an exceptionally close election that will require time and transparency to be certain the results are fair and accurate and the voices of Georgians are heard.
“We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted. We believe in the end, Senator Perdue will be victorious.”
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia voting system implementation manager, said he expects most ballots to be counted by Wednesday but for final counts not until Friday.
Warnock’s victory gives Democrats 49 seats in the Senate, one shy of creating a 50-50 tie with Republicans, which would effectively give Democrats control because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote. A win for Ossoff would give Democrats their coveted 50th seat.
The possible Senate sweep in Georgia would give Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 2014 and boost President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to carry out his early legislative agenda. In November, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, becoming the first Democrat to carry the state for president since 1992.
Tuesday’s election was a rare double run-off. Ossoff and Warnock ran against Perdue and Loeffler in the Nov. 3 general election, but no candidate in that race passed the 50% threshold under state law to win the Senate seats outright, forcing Tuesday's runoffs.
The two Democrats benefited Tuesday from higher turnout in heavily Democratic counties in the Atlanta area. In several cases, they outperformed Biden’s margins of victory in these counties.
Leading up to the election, President Donald Trump leveled a barrage of unfounded allegations about his election loss in Georgia. With Trump calling his election outcome rigged, some Republicans feared it might discourage their voters to turnout in the runoff elections. Trump was in Georgia to campaign for the Republican candidates as recently as Monday night.
Georgia election officials said turnout Tuesday shattered the previous record for a run-off in the state, including more than 3 million who voted early. Nearly $500 million was spent on campaign ads since Nov. 4, indicative of the significance both parties and special interests placed on the race.
Following the playbook that helped Republicans retain control of the Senate after the general election, Loeffler and Perdue attacked their opponents as "radical socialists" and said the fate of nation was at stake with the race.
Ossoff and Warnock slammed Loeffler and Perdue for being part of a Republican-controlled Senate that for months refused to pass additional federal coronavirus relief.
Biden campaigned for Ossoff and Warnock just a day before the election, arguing in the last throes of the election that their win would benefit residents in the form of $2,000 direct relief checks to help deal with COVID-19’s economic impact.
Contributing: Ledyard King
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Georgia election: Who won the senate runoffs?