In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Associated Press called one of Georgia’s two Senate runoff races for the Democrat, Raphael Warnock. Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, will become Georgia’s first Senator of color and the first Democrat to hold one of Georgia’s Senate seats since 2004. The race between Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff remained too close to call, with tens of thousands of outstanding ballots.
Warnock declared himself the winner Tuesday night before 1 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,” he said. “I promise you this tonight: I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election.”
Earlier that hour, his opponent Kelly Loeffler told a crowd of supporters in Atlanta that she still saw a path to victory: “This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election.”
“It’s worth it for this election to last into tomorrow. We’re going to make sure every vote is counted. Every legal vote will be counted,” she said. “Stay in the fight with us.”
Loeffler and fellow incumbent Sen. David Perdue tied themselves inextricably to President Donald Trump during their runoffs, at a time when Trump was forcibly creating a civil war within the Republican Party and calling into question the integrity of the election system he asked Republicans to vote in again for Loeffler and Perdue.
Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke as a stand-in for his cousin David Perdue, who has been quarantining the final days of the campaign since being exposed to the coronavirus. Perdue referenced the roughly 17,000 outstanding military/overseas absentee ballots that have been requested but not yet returned.
Those ballots must be postmarked by Election Day but can be accepted through Friday.
In a statement early Wednesday morning, Jon Ossoff’s campaign manager Ellen Foster was confident about his chances: “When all the votes are counted, we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election to represent Georgia in the United States Senate,” she said. “The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant.”
The Perdue campaign’s statement called the race “an exceptionally close election that will require time and transparency to be certain the results are fair and accurate, and the voices of Georgians are heard.”
“We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted.”
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 1.3 million Election Day votes had been reported, surpassing the total from Nov. 3 and the expectations of elections officials. This is in addition to more than a million absentee ballots and two million in-person early votes. Overall, the vote total broke a state record for a runoff contest.