Schumer celebrates 51-seat Senate majority after Warnock win: 'Thank God he ran'

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took a victory lap of sorts on Wednesday, a day after Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., won reelection in the runoff race in Georgia, defeating Republican Herschel Walker and giving Democrats a 51-49 majority in the upper chamber of Congress.

Speaking at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill, Schumer lauded Warnock for delivering a win that “defied history.”

“Thank God he ran,” he said. “The people of Georgia are better off. The Democratic Senate caucus is better off. And America is better off because he ran and won.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock waves to the crowd at an election night party.
Sen. Raphael Warnock at an election night party in Atlanta on Tuesday. (John Bazemore/AP)

Schumer credited voters with backing Democrats over Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who recruited Walker to run and had a relationship with the football star going back decades.

“The public began to realize how far right these MAGA Republicans had become,” Schumer said, noting that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, its 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and the Jan. 6 hearings helped crystalize the GOP’s extremism in the minds of voters.

“People didn’t just read about something once,” he said. “Every night they saw on TV these hooligans, these insurrectionists being violent, beating up police officers … and they saw all of that and they said, ‘Wow.’ And they saw that the Republican leaders wouldn’t even attack this craziness.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Raphael Warnock. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock, Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Schumer also applauded Democratic candidates for touting the bipartisan legislation the Senate passed this summer.

“Don’t take my word for it,” he said before pointing to comments made by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., earlier Wednesday.

“Democrats have done a pretty good job of picking issues that motivate their base and have wider support among the public,” Graham said. “We need to be doing the same thing. I think a lot of people in the Republican Party don’t see us doing it as emphatically as the Democrats.”

Schumer smiled and said, “It’s one of the few times I’ll quote Lindsey Graham with approval.”

The New York Democrat said he is ready to work with Republicans to pass more bipartisan legislation now that his party has a slight majority in the Senate. Republicans, meanwhile, secured their own slight majority in the House last month.

“It’s big. It’s significant,” Schumer said of Warnock’s win. “We can breathe a sigh of relief.”

He also had some cheeky advice for Republicans who may be licking their wounds following their lackluster performance in the midterm elections.

“Turn left, Republicans,” Schumer said, laughing. “Or at least don’t turn hard right.”