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Second Georgia runoff race called for Ossoff; Democrats will control Senate

"Technical issue" delayed results in Democratic-heavy DeKalb County.

Published: January 5, 2021 11:43pm

Updated: January 6, 2021 4:33pm

Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff has won the second of the state's two runoff elections against Republican David Perdue, the Associated Press predicted on Wednesday, handing Democrats control over the U.S Senate during at least the first two years of Joe Biden's presidency. 

Ossoff had maintained a razor-thin lead against Perdue earlier in the day, with the tally giving him an 0.6% lead over the GOP candidate. 

A "technical issue" in DeKalb County had earlier delayed vote counting there, officials claimed early Wednesday morning, with nearly 20,000 votes having to be manually scanned due to an unspecified error with voting machines. 

Democrat Raphael Warnock was earlier declared by the AP to have defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler overnight in one of two Georgia Senate runoff races, at the time bringing Democrats one victory away from taking control of the Senate. 

With Ossoff's victory, Democrats will split with Republicans in having 50 Senate seats, but they will wield control of the chamber because incoming Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris will cast tie-breaking votes.

Ossoff's win gives Democrat Joe Biden a powerful position in trying to enact his agenda, with Democrats also controlling the House as well as the Senate.

Georgia law states a trailing candidate can request a recount when the margin of an election win is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points, meaning that Ossoff's apparent 0.6% victory will likely put him out of the range of a recount.

The 51-year-old Warnock upon his declared victory became the first black senator in Georgia history. The state in November narrowly voted for Biden over President Trump. Biden's win marked the first time a Democratic presidential candidate carried the state since 1992. 

Warnock is a pastor who has spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church in which Martin Luther King Jr. preached, also according to the Associated Press. 

"Tonight, we proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible," Warnock said in his victory speech.

Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the Georgia governor, has yet to concede. 

"We are going to keep fighting for you,” said the 50-year-old former businesswoman. "This is about protecting the American dream."

The 71-year-old Perdue is a former business executive. His term officially expired Sunday.

Ossoff, 33, is a former congressional aide and journalist. He will become the Senate’s youngest current member.

Trump endorsed both GOP candidates and held a rally in support of their campaigns on Monday evening ahead of the election.

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Ossoff and Warnock. Biden held a drive-in campaign event on Monday in support of the Democratic Senate candidates.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said about 4.6 million votes were cast in total in the runoff election compared to nearly 5 million in the 2020 general election. In comparison, about 2.1 million votes were cast in the 2008 runoff election in Georgia.

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