Reverend Raphael Warnock has defeated incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate special election. Ebenezer Baptist Church’s senior pastor in Atlanta was elected on Tuesday to be the first Black senator from Georgia. This win puts Democrats one seat away from control of congress and is a repudiation of Donald Trump loyalist, Loeffler.
Warnock is the first Georgia Democrat elected to the Senate in 20 years, the first Black Democrat to win election to the Senate from a Southern state, and will be just the 11th Black senator in history. In a brief statement – in stark contrast to the partisan rhetoric that Loeffler spewed while campaigning – the newly elected senator addressed the nation and stated, “Georgia, I am honored by the faith that you have shown in me, and 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.”
The election win is the culmination of years of voter registration drives conducted by former state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams and other activists. After no Georgia Senate candidate received 50% of the vote in November, the races turned to two runoffs, the other being between David Perdue and Jon Ossoff. These were highly contested races as the four campaigns shattered all Senate campaign spending records in history. The unprecedented spend helped democratic activists keep voters engaged and was used to suppress voters by republican strategists.
Still mimicking the actions of Donald Trump, Loeffler has refused to concede, declaring, “We are going to win this election.” After aligning herself so closely with Trump, going so far as stating she would object to Congress’ certification of the Electoral College’s results, Loeffler’s last gasp was an insincere plea. “We are going to keep fighting for you. This is about protecting the American dream…I work for you, I don’t owe anyone up there anything,” these words rang hollow as her entire campaign hinged on owing Donald Trump everything.
A perfect storm of an unelected incumbent senator, an energized voter base, and the vitriol of an obsessed defeated president helped Warnock ride the wave of victory in a historic race that will help decide the fate of the U.S. Senate.