Democrat Raphael Warnock won one of Georgia’s two senate runoffs on Wednesday, becoming the first Black senator in his state’s history and putting the senate majority within his party’s reach.
A pastor who spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. It was a stinging rebuke of outgoing President Donald Trump, who made one of his final trips in office to Georgia to rally his loyal base behind Loeffler and the Republican running for the other seat, David Perdue.
The focus has now shifted to the second race between Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff. That contest was too early to call as votes were still being counted. If Ossoff wins, Democrats will have complete control of Congress, strengthening President-elect Joe Biden’s standing as he prepares to take office on January 20.
Warnock’s victory is a symbol of a striking shift in Georgia’s politics as the swelling number of diverse, college-educated voters flex their power in the heart of the Deep South. It marks the end of nearly two decades in which Democrats have been shut out of statewide office and follows Biden’s victory in November, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.
Warnock, 51, acknowledged his improbable victory in a message to supporters early on Wednesday, citing his family’s experience with poverty. His mother, he said, used to pick “somebody else’s cotton” as a teenager.—AP