His opponent, Republican Lefler, refused to concede defeat
WASHINGTON – Democrat Rafael Warnock was predicted by U.S. media to have won the second round of Senate elections in Georgia, becoming the first black senator in the state’s history.
With his victory, the Democratic majority in the Senate became within reach.
The media declared Warnock the winner when his lead over Kelly Lefler was more than 40,000 votes and almost all the ballots were counted.
“We were told we couldn’t win this election, but today we proved that through hope, hard work, and people on our side, anything is possible,” Warnock said in an address to his supporters.
Incumbent Senator Lefler refused to admit defeat in a brief address to supporters shortly after midnight.
“We have some work to do. This is a game where every little detail counts. We’re going to win this election,” said Lefler, an ex-businesswoman who was appointed to the state Senate seat less than a year ago.
In Georgia’s second election, Democrat John Ossoff is ahead of Republican David Perdue, seeking re-election, by less than 13,000 votes. It’s considered too early, to sum up the results in this case, given that the vote count is still underway.
Democrats need both of their candidates to win in order for the party to gain a majority in the Senate, and with it control of the new Congress when President-elect Joe Biden takes office in two weeks.
The fight for the two Senate seats is between incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Leffler and the Democrats, documentary filmmaker John Ossoff and Baptist pastor Rev. Raphael Warnock.
The vote will determine which party will control the upper chamber of Congress and will also demonstrate President-elect Joe Biden’s potential ability to implement his ambitious campaign strategy.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told CNN that the official results of the race could be known Wednesday, but the final outcome could remain in doubt for several days if the difference in votes cast for one or the other candidate is minimal.
Election officials began counting ballots just after the polls closed at 7 p.m. U.S. East Coast time.
Although no Democrat has managed to get elected to the Senate from Georgia in the last 20 years, opinion polls show that Republicans and Democrats have about the same chance of winning this time around.
A runoff election was required after neither candidate was able to garner more than 50 percent voter support in November.
According to exit polling conducted by Edison Research, voters who participated in a runoff election in Georgia were equally divided.
About half of the exit poll participants supported Republicans, while the other half said they supported Democrats.
Less than an hour before polling ended, it was extended in some precincts by a judge’s order.
Although there was a good turnout in some areas, election officials said there was little turnout early in the day, including in a deeply conservative region where President Donald Trump had visited the day before to encourage Republican voters to take an active role in voting.
Biden and Trump personally campaigned for their candidates on the eve of the election, though some Republicans feared the president might embarrass voters with his incessant allegations of election fraud in an effort to undermine Biden’s victory.
Even before Tuesday, Georgia had broken its record for second-round turnout, with more than three million voters voting by mail or early.
“Georgia! Get out and vote!” – Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday, urging his supporters to vote for the two Republican candidates.
If at least one of the two Republican candidates wins, Biden will have a hard time getting his most ambitious plans to expand government-backed health insurance programs, tackle racial inequality, and fight climate change approved.
The vote in Georgia marks the official end of a busy 2020 election season more than two months after voting ended in the rest of the country.