Democratic challenger Rev. Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in Georgia's extremely close and expensive Senate runoffs, according to the Associated Press. The AP tally as of early Wednesday, with 98 percent of results in, had Warnock at 50.6 percent and 2,227,296 votes.
Rev. Warnock, a senior pastor at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached at, has made history with his election victory as he will become the state's first Black senator. Warnock has previously said that he plans to stay on as a pastor if he wins the election.
On the flip side, Loeffler, who is the wealthiest member of congress with a reported net worth of around a billion, was appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in 2019 to take over for Senator Johnny Isakson after he retired. Loeffler, a staunch Donald Trump supporter that was previously photographed with a former Ku Klux Klan leader at a campaign event, was sworn in on January 6, 2020.
Rev. Warnock previously received 32.9% of the vote in November's crowded special election and Loeffler received 25.9% of votes. The election went to a runoff as a result of no candidate receiving at least 50% of the vote. Warnock is a Georgia native who was born in Savannah while Loeffler was born and raised in Illinois.
As for Tuesday's election, Loeffler—in an unsurprising move—mimicked the whole Trumpie MAGA thing about refusing to concede despite losing. She was immediately mocked:
Warnock will be up for re-election in the 2022 midterms.
The runoffs, which have garnered a tremendous amount of attention, will decide whether Democrats or Republicans will control the Senate. Prior to Tuesday's runoff election in Georgia, Republicans controlled 50 seats and Democrats controlled 48. With Warnock's win that number will increase to 49 seats for Democrats. A 50–50 split in the Senate will work in the favor of Democrats as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have the power to break any ties.
Georgia's hotly contested runoff election also saw Republican incumbent David Perdue facing Democrat Jon Ossoff. At the time of this writing, that race had yet to be called by the AP. Per state law, a recount can be requested by a candidate if the margin in an election is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points.
Perdue previously received 49.7% in November's election while Ossoff received 47.9%.
In an address to his supporters late Tuesday night, Warnock reflected on the historical impact of his win.
"Thank you so very much," he said in a livestreamed address. "I come before you tonight as a proud American and as a son of Georgia. My roots are planted deeply in the Georgia soil … I come before you tonight as a man who knows that the improbable journey that lead me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here. 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."
Ahead of the election being called for Warnock, incoming POTUS Joe Biden touted the importance of ensuring both Warnock and Ossoff's victories in the (now) increasingly Democratic state of Georgia.
"If you elect [Warnock and Ossoff], we can break the gridlock that has gripped Washington," Biden said, adding that their victories will quicken his administration's progress on issues including healthcare, unemployment, and more.