Warnock gets call for win of Georgia Senate seat, Ossoff-Perdue still too close to call

UPDATE: Democratic jubilation, Trump set to address supporters in Washington, Congress to begin counting Electoral College vote soon
Democrats inched closer to taking control of the U.S. Senate after the Rev. Raphael Warnock delivered a projected win over Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of two Georgia runoff races, while the second remained too close to call well into Wednesday.
Warnock, 51, the senior pastor of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, was projected to defeat Loeffler, 50, who had been appointed to an unexpired term. The Associated Press called the race in Warnock’s favor at 2 a.m.
“We were told that we couldn’t win this election, but tonight we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible,” Warnock said in a livestreamed address to supporters shortly after midnight Wednesday, before the AP had called the race.
Now on track to become his state’s first Black senator, Warnock said, “I stand before you as a man who knows that the improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here.”
Warnock said Wednesday he hadn’t yet heard from Loeffler, who told supporters shortly after midnight that, “This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election.”
In the other runoff, Democrat Jon Ossoff, 33, a former congressional aide and journalist, held a razor-thin lead over Republican David Perdue, 71, whose Senate term expired Sunday.
Advantage in both races had seesawed throughout election night and into Wednesday morning before the AP and other major news outlets projected Warnock the winner in the special runoff. With 98% of the vote in as of 9 a.m., Ossoff was up 50.2% over Perdue’s 49.8%.
Ossoff claimed victory Wednesday morning, saying, “It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate.”
Under Georgia law, a trailing candidate may request a recount if they’re within 0.5 percentage points.
Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia election official, told CNN shortly after 9 a.m. that there were about 65,000 votes still outstanding in the Peach State, mainly absentee ballots that came in on Election Day, and that those should be processed by around lunchtime.
As counting continues, control of the Senate hangs in the balance. Democrats need both Georgia seats to force a tie in the upper chamber that could be broken by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Republicans only need to win one seat to keep their slim majority — and stand up a roadblock to President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks and his legislative agenda.
Biden sounded an optimistic note in a statement late Wednesday morning congratulating Warnock and expressing hope that Ossoff would prevail.
“It looks like we will emerge from yesterday’s election with Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, and of course I’m pleased that we will be able to work with Speaker Pelosi and a Majority Leader Schumer,” Biden said.
“But I’m also just as determined today as I was yesterday to try to work with people in both parties — at the federal, state, and local levels — to get big things done for our nation,” Biden continued, stressing both the importance of additional coronavirus relief and of seating his Cabinet picks “as soon as possible after” his inauguration on Jan. 20.
And, with a joint session of Congress preparing to affirm the results of the Electoral College vote and cement Biden’s win, the president-elect said, “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.”
Republican allies of President Trump in both chambers are readying to object during what is typically little more than a ceremonial exercise. The president is pressuring Vice President Mike Pence, who will preside over the joint session, to intervene. And thousands of Trump’s supporters are gathering in Washington for a “Save America March” that the president is set to address, adding to the tumult in the capital.
“THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE – THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!” Trump wrote in one Wednesday tweet.
Trump was already taking heat from some Republicans on Wednesday as it looked like the GOP was heading for defeat in Georgia.
Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia election official and Republican, told CNN Tuesday night that in his “personal opinion” it “will fall squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions” since Nov. 3 should the Republicans lose.
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters, “It turns out telling voters the election is rigged is not a good way to turn out your voters.”
Democrats across the nation were jubilant.
“It’s a glorious morning,” Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, now the assistant House speaker, tweeted, “Hey @senatemajldr, I think it’s time to change your Twitter handle… We’ve got work to do.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement, “Thanks to the people of Georgia, a new day dawns in America.”
Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and voting rights activist credited with driving her party’s turnout in the state, tweeted that Democrats “roared” in the Peach State.
Herald wire services contributed.

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