Loeffler Beats Collins For Spot In Senate Special Election Runoff

Collins called Loeffler to concede Tuesday night and immediately offered his endorsement in a Twitter statement. “I look forward to all Republicans coming together,” he said.

Associated Press

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler is headed to a Jan. 5 runoff against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman and political newcomer, was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in December to fill the seat held by Sen. Johnny Isakson and has fought a bruising campaign this year mostly focused on Rep. Doug Collins, who challenged her from the right.

The special election structure forced 21 candidates all onto the same ballot, all but guaranteeing a Jan. 5 runoff.

In response to questions about whether her conservative strategy will change moving into a runoff, Loeffler declined.

“My strategy has been to be to outwork everyone, I’ll continue to do that. That’s in my DNA. But I’m also going to continue to fight for conservative values, because those are the things that can help Georgians get ahead,” she said.

Georgia’s other Senate race remained too early to call. GOP Sen. David Perdue’s reelection race was up in the air early Wednesday because of uncounted ballots in metro Atlanta.

Georgia was the only state with both its senators on the ballot Tuesday, with control of the Senate in the balance.

Perdue led unofficial returns as he sought a second term against Democrat John Ossoff. But Ossoff still hoped to pick up votes in populous metro Atlanta counties that lean Democratic.

In the special Senate election, Collins called Loeffler to concede Tuesday night and immediately offered his endorsement in a Twitter statement. “I look forward to all Republicans coming together,” he said.

“Thank you for pushing me one step closer to the Senate,” Warnock told supporters in a live-streamed speech. “Because when I get there you will go with me. Your concerns will go with me. Your issues will go with me. But I need you to keep it up for about 62 more days.”

Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home church, emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the race with endorsements from Stacey Abrams and former President Barack Obama, despite challenges from other Democrats.

Loeffler said she will continue to focus “on serving the people of Georgia as Georgia’s Senator…but we’re going to have a very targeted campaign and making sure Georgians understand what’s at stake. It’s jobs; it’s opportunities; it’s affordable health care; it’s low taxes. Those are the things I’m fighting for.”

Stephen Lawson, Loeffler’s communications director attributed the victory to the campaign’s “discipline.”

“Whether it was, you know, the totally debunked stock story, or whether it was, you know, attacks from our opponents, we stayed disciplined, we stayed on message. And we traveled the state and connected with voters,” he said. “And I think at the end of the day, those are the small details that aren’t always the flashiest things, but those are the things that it takes to win.”

Loeffler raised more than $28 million for her campaign, including $20 million of her own money. Collins raised more than $6.3 million, and Warnock has raised nearly $22 million.

Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Georgia in two decades. But ongoing population growth around Atlanta and shifting demographics that have made the state less white — along with dissatisfaction with Trump in the suburbs — have helped fuel hope among Democrats that the state is in play.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.