Democrat Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in one of Georgia’s two US Senate runoff elections, according to a projection by The Associated Press news agency, putting Democrats one seat away from majority control of the Senate.
In the extremely tight race, Warnock leads Loeffler 50.6 to 49.4 percent, with 98 percent of votes counted.
The second runoff, between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue, is still too close to call. Although Ossoff holds a slim 0.4 percentage point lead and a winner has not been projected, he declared victory in a brief YouTube speech Wednesday.
If Democrats prevail in both races, the party will take control of the Senate, paving the way for Joe Biden to enact his agenda after he is sworn in as president on January 20.
Warnock, 51, is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the same church pastored by civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. His victory makes him the first Black senator in Georgia’s history.
“I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia,” Warnock said in live remarks broadcast on social media early on Wednesday morning. “To everyone out there struggling today, whether you voted for me or not, know this: 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.”
Warnock will be up for election again in 2022, as this victory is to fill the remaining two years of the Senate term originally won in 2016 by Republican Johnny Isakson, who stepped down last year and was temporarily replaced by Loeffler.