Democrats captured control of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday when Jon Ossoff defeated GOP Sen. David Perdue in a Georgia Senate runoff, in a victory that hands a major win to President-elect Joe Biden.
Ossoff, 33, knocked off Republican Sen. David Perdue, who had said he will back President Trump’s effort to overturn the election results.
His celebratory moment came as the U.S. Capitol was still being occupied by a mob of Donald Trump supporters who breached the building, with U.S. Capitol Police seeking to regain order while aided by National Guard forces.
Although his win was being overshadowed by history-making events unfolding in the Capitol while Trump supporters sought to disrupt the count that will make Joe Biden’s win official, it is certain to reverberate throughout Biden’s tenure.
With Democrats at 50-50 with Republicans, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will give Democrats a majority in the chamber.
That will allow Biden to confirm cabinet members, install his appointees on federal courts, and fashion major legislation that can overcome Republican hurdles.
The state of the Republican Party Biden will face was unknown and in disarray as the news broke.
Former advisors to the president and some elected lawmakers, as well as Biden, were pleading with the president to tell his supporters to vacate the Capitol.
Images from inside showed his supporters had made off with a podium used by the Speaker, occupied the chairs of the Senate, broken windows, and trashed parts of the building.
More than a dozen of Ossoff’s future colleagues have said they would join in opposing electors for Joe Biden in states that Trump lost.
Ossoff, who runs a documentary film company and once worked on Capitol Hill, declared himself the winner of his contest with Republican Senator David Perdue before networks made the call, a claim quickly backed up in statements from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
His will be the second victory – the Rev. Raphael Warnock was first win of the night, beating Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler – and would give Democrats complete control on Capitol Hill for the next two years.
‘It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States senate. Thank you for the confidence and trust you have placed in me,’ Ossoff said in a video posted to Twitter.
He led Perdue by more than 17,000 votes, which is just shy of a 0.5 percent threshold to avoid a recount. Most outstanding votes were from Democratic-leaning areas.
Gabe Sterling, the Voting System Implementation Manager for Georgia, said Wednesday morning there is ‘no evidence of any irregularities’ in last night’s election. ‘The biggest thing we’ve seen is from the president’s fertile mind of finding fraud where none exists,’ he noted.
He also said he expects Ossoff to garner enough votes from the more than 60,000 outstanding to avoid an automatic recount.
Schumer – likely to be the chamber’s next majority leader – praised the two Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia for their wins and vowed to bring aid to the American people.
‘For too long, much-needed help has been stalled or diluted by a Republican-led Senate and President Trump. That will change with a Democratic Senate, Democratic House, and a Democratic President,’ he said in a statement Wednesday morning. ‘We will work every day to reward the faith that the American people have placed in us.’
He also said he had spoken to President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Biden was more cautious in his statement on the contests, which were the most expensive Senate races in history.
‘I congratulate Reverend Warnock on his groundbreaking win last night and I am hopeful that when the count is complete, Jon Ossoff will also be victorious,’ he said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is watching his power to set the agenda in the upper chamber fade away, had no comment to reporters on the situation when he arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning.
Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill he hasn’t spoken to McConnell yet Wednesday.
‘I look forward to sitting down with Leader McConnell. We have a lot of things to discuss,’ he noted.
He said he learned of the results while at home in Brooklyn. ‘This is not the path we chose to get here, but we’re here,’ he said.
The victory declaration comes as Congress prepares to convene for a constitutionally-mandated Joint Session to certify the electoral college results in the presidential race.
Joe Biden’s victory is all but certain even as President Donald Trump launched a last-minute attempt to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results, asking him for ‘extreme courage’ in the day ahead.
Pence will preside over what is expected to be a long day as Trump allies on Capitol Hill prepare to object to the results. But their efforts are expected to be for naught. A majority of Republican senators vowed to support Biden’s win, leaving the president with few options.
Trump kept the pressure on, however.
‘States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!,’ he tweeted Wednesday morning.
Pence does not have the power to overturn the election. His role in the day’s proceedings is largely ceremonial.
The president also is scheduled to address his supporters outside the White House on Wednesday morning – shortly before the joint session convenes – in a day that expected to feature protests throughout the city and fears of violence.
The National Guard has been called into help patrol the streets and Washington D.C. police announced they will arrest anyone who brings in a fire arm, as some Trump supporters have threatened to do.
‘Buckle up,’ Schumer warned in a tweet Wednesday morning. The Joint Session is expected to go into the early hours of Thursday.
Meanwhile, Trump used his party’s losses in Tuesday’s special election in Georgia as part of his case to stay in the White House.
‘THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE – THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!,’ he tweeted in all caps.
However, later in the morning, the president changed his tune, claiming Perdue’s loss was because of a ‘rigged election’ – a false claim he has made about his own electoral loss.
‘These scoundrels are only toying with the @sendavidperdue (a great guy) vote. Just didn’t want to announce quite yet. They’ve got as many ballots as are necessary. Rigged Election!,’ Trump tweeted.
The dual Democratic victory in Georgia was a blow to Republicans and gives the incoming president-elect complete control on Capitol Hill as he prepares to nominate judges and Cabinet officials along with pushing his legislative agenda.
Republicans have starting blame Trump for the losses. The president campaigned for the two Republican senators in Georgia but used those campaign rallies to slam the state’s GOP governor for not helping him with the presidential race.
‘Well, It turns out that telling the voters that the election is rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,’ Republican Senator Mitt Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Jon Ossoff declared victory in his Senate race – despite the contest not being officially called – a move that gives Democrats control of the upper chamber of Congress
The Rev. Raphael Warnock victory was first win of the night in Georgia’s two special Senate contests
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer declared victory on Wednesday morning as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t respond to questions about the Georgia Senate race
The congressional certification on Wednesday is the final act in completing the presidential election.
Trump has put heavy pressure on Pence to act illegally and keep him in office, even issuing a statement late Tuesday night denying a report that the vice president had told him he could not give him a second term.
The president issued a statement after the New York Times reported that Pence had told him over lunch that he had no constitutional power to ‘decertify’ states’ slates of electors when he presides over Congress to certify the election result.
But Trump called that ‘fake news’ then outlined an extraordinary plan to either get Republican state legislatures to send Trump electors – or turn the election to Congress under the 12th Amendment, which could then vote for Trump.
ABC News’ White House Correspondent Jon Karl reported that Trump was ‘prepared to go after Pence and go after him hard’ if he does not get in line and act as he wishes in the Joint Session.
Trump gave a suggestion of his public fury in his statement Tuesday night.
‘Decertifying’ the results would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis but Trump claimed that Pence was in ‘total agreement’ that he ‘has the power to act.’
Trump’s statement publicly turned the heat up on Pence after a pressure campaign which has been going on in private for weeks and exploded into the public on Monday night at Trump’s Georgia rally, then on Twitter Tuesday.
‘The New York Times report regarding comments Vice President Pence supposedly made to me today is fake news,’ Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. It was dated 2020.
‘He never said that. The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.
‘The November 3rd election was corrupt in contested states, and in particular it was not in accordance with the Constitution in that they made large scale changes to election rules and regulations as dictated by local judges and politicians, not by state legislators. This means that it was illegal.
Delivering bad news: Mike Pence was spotted at the White House Tuesday after Trump had tweeted that the vice president could disqualify Electoral College votes. Pence was on his way to tell Trump that he could not
Trying to lighten the blow: Mike Pence told Trump he might attempt to ‘acknowledge’ his claims of fraud – partly driven by his own fear that confirming Joe Biden’s victory will be used against him
Trump’s tweet is false and Pence does not have the power to reject slates of electors
‘Our Vice President has several options under the U.S. Constitution. He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification.
‘He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote for one state tabulation.’
Significantly, however, the statement was not signed by Pence – and the legal claims Trump made appeared to be in line with plans outlined by Rudy Giuliani, not the Senate Parliamentarian who has advised Pence that his powers are limited to confirming the Electoral College votes read out on the floor of Congress.
During the Joint Session, if a member of the House and Senate both object to one of the state’s slates of electors, the two chambers split to debate the objection for two hours – with Pence presiding over the Senate.
That is when he could offer some ‘acknowledgment’ of Trump’s claims about fraud to ameliorate both the blow to his boss, and the potential for the president to turn on his ultra-loyal deputy in the dying days of the administration, and beyond.
Pence is said to be particularly concerned that his certification of Biden’s victory could be weaponized against him on social media.
The low down on how Congress certifies the Electoral College vote
At 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Senators and Representatives will gather in the House chamber for a Joint Session of Congress to count and certify the electoral college ballots.
Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump by 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
But the constitution calls for Congress to certify the results, in a process that has become largely procedural. It is very difficult to over turn an election and it has never happened in American history.
Republicans, however, have vowed to object to the electoral college results, dragging out the certification process and putting on a grand display of theater that will likely please the president.
Here’s how the day will play out:
The process is presided over by the president of the Senate, which is Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence will open the states’ sealed certificates in alphabetical order and hand them them to one of four ‘tellers’ — a Republican and a Democrat from each chamber of Congress – who will announce how each state voted.
As each state’s result is read, Pence will ask whether any member of Congress wishes to raise an objection.
At least one member of the House and one member of the Senate must object for the objection to stand. The law also states the objection must be in writing.
If the objection is recognized, the lawmakers go to their respective chambers to debate the matter for up to two hours.
Then the House and Senate each votes on whether to sustain the objection – which would dismiss the state’s votes – or reject the objection.
For a state’s results to be dismissed, majorities of both chambers have to vote to sustain the objection. If one chamber votes to sustain the objection and the other doesn’t, the objection is dismissed and the state’s electoral college results stand.
The Democratically-controlled House is unlikely to support sustaining an objection, meaning the states’ results will stand and Biden will ultimately be declared the winner.
Additionally, the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t likely to vote in favor of an objection, either. The GOP has a slim margin in the upper chamber and a number of Republican senators have voiced their objections to the objection process.
After the objection is voted on by each chamber, the joint session reconvenes and continues with the count. If there’s another objection to a different state’s vote, the process is repeated.
President Trump’s allies are looking at challenging three states: Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, which could go into the early morning hours of Thursday.
‘At the end of the day, which could be the middle of the night, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be officially declared the next President and Vice President of the United States,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Democratic House members on Monday.
After the votes are recorded from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the vice president declares who has received the requisite majority of electoral college votes. That announcement finalizes the election.
WHAT IF THE OBJECTIONS ARE SUSTAINED?
If, by some remote chance, an objection is sustained, Trump and his allies hope that will result in the electors being thrown out, ultimately bringing Biden’s electoral count below the 270 needed to win.
If all three state challenges are successful, Biden would have 259 electoral votes, throwing the election to the House of Representatives to select the next president.
Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, each state congressional delegation gets one vote.
While Democrats control the House, Republicans control the majority of state delegations, which is how Trump hopes to be ‘elected.’
Sources: NBC News, Washington Post, New York Times
Meanwhile, Democrats are celebrating their return to power with Biden coming into the White House and their majorities in both chambers of Congress, thanks to the double wins in Georgia’s runoff Senate elections.
Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock was the first victory of the night in Georgia, winning his race against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and becoming the first black Senator in the state’s history.
Ossoff led Republican incumbent David Perdue into the early hours before he finally declared himself the victor.
President Trump tweeted bitterly throughout Wednesday night as dawn broke on the likelihood of a split Senate 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
‘Looks like they are setting up a big ‘voter dump’ against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?’ The president tweeted amid a slew of unsubstantiated voter fraud claims.
Georgia has become a political focal point since the November general election as the Republicans sought desperately to retain their crucial Senate majority in a traditionally red state after losing the White House.
But the state has elected its first Democrat senators for 20 years in a stinging rebuke of the GOP.
Warnock told supporters: ‘Because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.’
When Loeffler gave her remarks earlier, she refused to concede, while Purdue’s campaign said: ‘This is 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.’
Warnock told supporters proudly of his deep roots in Georgia and about his family members, including his mother. He also quoted scripture and Martin Luther King Jr, who once preached at his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
‘We have a choice to make,’ he said. ‘Will we continue to play political games as people suffer?’
He said he hoped his story would be an inspiration to some young person looking for the American dream.
‘So Georgia I am honored in the faith that you have shown to me,’ Warnock said. ‘I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia.’
Warnock will become the state’s first black senator while the 33-year-old Ossoff would be Georgia’s first Jewish senator if he wins.
The critical races drew an estimated 4.5 million voters – a record for a runoff – along with nearly half a billion dollars in advertising spending since November 3 and visits on Monday by Trump and Biden.
Perdue is a former Fortune 500 executive who has served one Senate term. Loeffler, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was appointed a year ago to fill the seat of a retiring senator.
Biden’s narrow statewide win over Trump in the general election – the first victory for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 – gave the party reason for optimism in a state dominated by Republicans for decades.
The head-to-head runoff elections in Georgia, a quirk of state law, became necessary when no candidate in either race drew more than 50 percent of the vote in November’s general election.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said election officials would take a break overnight but resume counting on Wednesday morning. ‘Hopefully by noon we’ll have a better idea where we are,’ he said.
Late reporting from DeKalb County put the Democrats in a more formidable position.
Trump predicted that – tweeting around 10.30 pm that their wins would be products of more voter fraud.
‘Looks like they are setting up a big ‘voter dump’ against the Republican candidates,’ Trump wrote. ‘Waiting to see how many votes they need?’ the president tweeted.
Later on he continued: ‘Just happened to have found another 4000 ballots from Fulton County. Here we go!’
The president has since been retweeting baseless theories from right-wing commentator Tomi Lahren who claimed, ‘The steal is in the making in Georgia. Wait for it,’ and ‘Democrats scrounging up votes from mystical places again.’
Democrat Raphael Warnock claimed victory in Tuesday’s Senate run-off race early Wednesday morning over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler
Loeffler spoke to supporters in Atlanta and refused to concede. She attacked Warnock for ‘moving the country toward socialism’
Stacey Abrams tweeted her congratulations to Rev. Raphael Warnock before the race was called for him by the networks
Before Trump’s tweets, the Drudge Report and other secondary outlets called the race for Warnock. The New York Times said it was ‘very likely’ Warnock and ‘pretty likely’ for Ossoff. By midnight, the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman predicted both Democrats would win.
Former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tweeted her congratulations to Warnock before his win was called by the networks.
Abrams’ get out the vote efforts are largely credited for the state going to Biden in the November 3 election.
‘Congratulations to our next U.S. Senator, @ReverendWarnock. Last January, I endorsed my dear friend in his quest to serve. Soon, he will walk those august halls & cast votes as a leader with courage, justice and integrity. God bless you and keep you in your service to us all,’ Abrams wrote.
At an election night party in Atlanta, Loeffler attacked Warnock saying he was moving the country toward socialism, even as he cut ads to reach out to suburban voters and called for unity.
‘It was very obvious my opponent campaigned on a platform of high taxes, socialism, government control of our health care,’ she said. ‘Stopping our school choice for our children. My campaign’s about saving our country. Fighting for the American dream. You know? That’s right,’ she said to a smattering of cheers.
She vowed to fight on, and suggested she would stick to her declaration Monday that she would back election challenges on behalf of Trump.
‘So you know it’s worth it for this election to last into tomorrow,’ she continued. ‘We’re going to make sure every vote is counted. That’s right. Every legal vote will be counted. And I’m not going to stop working.’
U.S. equity market index futures were broadly weaker as the results turned in favor of the Democrats, signaling stocks could open on the soft side on Wednesday morning.
The benchmark S&P 500 e-mini futures contract was down 0.6%, while futures tracking the tech-heavy Nasdaq were off by 1.3 percent.
The campaign’s final days were overshadowed by Trump’s efforts to subvert the presidential election results.
On Saturday, Trump pressured Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, on a phone call to ‘find’ enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory, falsely claiming massive fraud.
Trump’s bid to undo his loss – with some Republicans planning to object to the certification of Biden’s win when Congress meets on Wednesday to formally count the presidential vote – have split his party and drawn condemnation from critics who accuse him of undermining democracy.
At a rally in Georgia on Monday night, Trump again declared the November vote ‘rigged,’ an assertion some Republicans worried would dissuade his supporters from voting on Tuesday.
His attacks appear to have undermined public confidence in the electoral system. Edison’s exit poll found more than seven in 10 were very or somewhat confident their votes would be counted accurately, down from 85% who said the same in a Nov. 3 exit poll.
As the Democratic Senate hopefuls looked poised to jump ahead, President Donald Trump again alleged fraud, suggesting that there would be a ‘voter dump’ against the GOP candidates, which is why Dekalb County was taking so long to report
President Donald Trump’s campaign sent out a fundraising tweet on behalf of the president around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night as returns were coming in, repeating his unfounded claims of voter fraud
Fulton County, Georgia election workers process absentee ballots Tuesday in the nail-biter race
Georgia Republicans await election results on Tuesday night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia
Georiga Gov. Brian Kemp addresses an audience of Republican supporters of Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue Tuesday night in Georgia. President Donald Trump turned on Kemp after losing Georgia in the November general election
Warnock is a reverend and the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where MLK once preached.
Ossoff was watching the results with his election team while his wife, an OBGYN was working the overnight shift, receiving updates from her patients, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
His campaign put out a statement once he overtook Perdue in votes, predicting he’d be successful.
‘When the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election to represent Georgia in the United States Senate. We look forward to seeing the process through in the coming hours and moving ahead so Jon can start fighting for all Georgians in the U.S. Senate,’ the statement read.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump was already claiming voter fraud, floating a theory that Dominion voting machines were malfunctioning.
And as midnight neared, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted out a conspiracy theory that Democrats were up to something in Chatham County, where the stronghold of Savannah is.
‘Why are they stopping the vote count in Democrat Chatham county, Georgia?’ McEnany wrote. ‘This sounds familiar!’
Earlier Tuesday Trump posted to his Twitter, ‘Reports are coming out of the 12th Congressional District of Georgia that Dominion Machines are not working in certain Republican Strongholds for over an hour.’
‘Ballots are being left in lock boxes, hopefully they count them. Thank you Congressman @RickAllen!’ he continued, directing his gratitude to Georgia’s 12th district Rep. Rick Allen.
As returns were coming in Tuesday night, Trump sent out a fundraising text to supporters trying to raise money off the allegations.
‘Pres Trump: Is it true that voting machines ‘stopped working’ earlier in Georgia today? Are Dems trying to STEAL this Election? FIGHT BACK! Act,’ the text said, linking to page asking for donations.
The claim from Trump of voter fraud appears to have come from Perdue, who is running for reelection in the runoff, and John Fredericks, who appeared on former Trump White House strategist Steven Bannon’s podcast Tuesday.
‘We’ve got another problem with Dominion machines,’ Fredericks told Bannon on his podcast War Room. ‘I know this is going to shock your viewers today. But Dominion machines in several – get this, not one or two – I heard, three of the largest Republican precincts at 10:00 a.m. are down.’
‘People have been told that they cannot scan their ballots… because the machines don’t work,’ he continued. ‘In the meantime, they have to make their ballot out and put it in an envelope and the pole workers are saying ‘When it’s fixed we’ll scan it for you.’
‘So there’s all kinds of red flags right there,’ Fredericks said. ‘Of course, these are happening in Republican areas. You can extrapolate that, it could be happenstance.’
Also on Tuesday, Perdue told the Todd Starnes Show there were voting ‘anomalies’ involving Dominion machines in three different counties in Georgia.
The president’s tweet about the claims of irregularities and malfunctions comes as reports emerge of small lines at polling places and low in-person Election Day turnout – a bad sign for Republican incumbents Loeffler and Perdue.
Karl Rove, who served as George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff and now is financial chair of the Georgia Battleground Fund, said in a private conference call Monday that the two campaigns’ models show at least 1 million Georgians need to show up on Election Day for Republicans to win.
Lines in Georgia have been much shorter than expected all day Tuesday as voters turn out on Election Day to cast their ballots in the two Senate runoff elections
Incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler (left) waves at supporters going to vote in Sandy Springs, Georgia as her Democratic opponent Reverend Raphael Warnock (right) speaks at a canvassing kick off event in Marietta, Georgia on Election Day
Immediately after news of smaller-than-expected Election Day turnout emerged, Trump sent an inevitable claim via tweet that Dominion voting machines were malfunctioning – the same claim he uses to assert he actually won Georgia in the presidential contest in November
Republican Georgia Senator David Perdue – who is running for reelection – is still quarantining after being diagnosed with coroanvirus. His Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff (pictured) visited Dunbar Neighborhood Center on Election Day in Acworth, Georgia
Voters started lining up at the crack of dawn to cast their ballots in the two consequential runoff races. The lines, however, are quite short, with some claiming it took them a total of 5 minutes between showing up and leaving their polling places
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris urged Democrats to start turning out more on Tuesday, as well – despite a larger Election Day turnout usually favoring Republicans.
‘I know @ReverendWarnock and @Ossoff,’ the California senator said of the two Democratic candidates. ‘We’ve talked about the promise of our country. How we must help Americans with $2,000 stimulus checks, ensure our children have clean air to breathe, and our small businesses can thrive. That’s who they are—and who they’ll be as U.S. Senators.’
On the other hand, Donald Trump Jr. was pushing for more Republicans to turn out.
‘Get out and vote Georgia you have 2 1/2 hours to get in line to save America as you know it from the communists,’ the president’s eldest son and one of his closest campaign advisers said. ‘She’s worth fighting for!’
All eyes turned to the Peach State on Tuesday as thousands across Georgia headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the two consequential runoff races that will decide Senate control.
Voters began lining up in the Peach State at the crack of dawn Tuesday and polls closed at 7 p.m. – setting up Washington for a day of speculation and nail biting as the two races will not only determine which party controls the Senate, but also the trajectory of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris urged Democrats in Georgia to start turning out more on Tuesday – despite a larger Election Day turnout usually favoring Republicans
Donald Trump Jr., the president eldest son and closest campaign adviser, was also pushing for Republicans to turn out with just a few hours left to cast their votes
Lines were as bad as expected – leading to speculation that Warnock and Ossoff could both emerge victorious.
‘I am hearing of virtually no lines across the state,’ Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said Tuesday.
Abrams tweeted Tuesday that voters are getting in and out of polling places in minutes thanks to early voting.
‘MSNBC is reporting that voters at many Atlanta Metro polling places are in and out in 5 minutes today because so many Georgians voted early!’ Abrams posted. ‘So if you haven’t voted, get out and vote by 7PM today. I’m counting on you.’
This is nothing compared to the very long lines seen for in-person early voting in Georgia this year – or those lines experienced in the pre-pandemic era in the 2018 runoff.
Similar issues that delayed results of the presidential election in Georgia could unfold after Tuesday’s runoff contests if the race turnouts are as close as they are expected to be.
Voters in Georgia started casting their ballots Tuesday morning in the two runoff elections in the state, which will determine which party controls the Senate
Georgians began arriving to vote before polling places even opened. Here a line forms at Cobb County Community Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Hundreds of thousands of Georgians are expected to vote on Tuesday before the polls close at 7:00 p.m. – after a record-shattering 3 million already voted in the runoff elections early by mail or in-person
Republicans expect to win both Senate races. But there are concerns the GOP senators will only win if at least 1 million more voters show up on Election Day to the 3 million who voted early
Masked-up and Socially Distanced: Georgia voters stood feet away from each other and donned face masks as they waited outside to be let into their respective polling places to vote
Trump pleaded with Georgians to vote for Loeffler and Perdue in a tweet Tuesday morning: ‘So important to do so!’ he urged
Volunteers at a voting center in Austell, Georgia hand out food and drinks to voters lined up waiting to cast their ballots
The southern state swung blue for Joe Biden by less than 12,000 votes on November 3, neither Senate race was decided because no candidate earned the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff
Georgia voters alone will decided the fate of the Senate in the two runoffs
A sign outside a voting center reminds candidates and their surrogates, as well as anyone else, that campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place is prohibited by law
With around 5.5 million registered voters in Georgia, more than half of those who can vote have already done so before runoff election day on Tuesday.
Data from Georgia Secretary of State’s office indicates much more people showed up to vote early in person rather than absentee by mail – even in the midst of the pandemic.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the highest ranking Georgia election official, said: ‘We may be looking at several days’ before results are known.
He claimed the delay would most likely come from mail ballots received on Tuesday.
Election officials are not able to start counting ballots until 7 p.m. on Tuesday – after the polling places close.
Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots will continue flooding in throughout the day Tuesday, and that, combined with tabulating in-person voting could delay the counting process.
Slow counting held up the results of the presidential election results in Georgia, with Trump holding a solid lead before mail-in ballots received on November 3 were fully processed and counted in the days after.
Biden won by less than 12,000 votes in the days after Election Day – and the minuscule margin of victory led to two separate recounts in the Peach State, further delaying the final results.
Historically, Democrats do better in mail-in and early voting and Republicans perform better on Election Day.
Trump, while pushing for Loeffler and Perdue’s reelections, also used his Monday night rally in Dalton County, Georgia to complain of his claimed widespread voter fraud and push his repeated – and largely unproven – allegations that the presidency was ‘stolen’ by Democrats.
President Donald Trump held a rally Monday night in Dalton County, Georgia for Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler (pictured) and David Perdue
Perdue joined the rally remotely to address the crowd at one point. He is still quarantining at his home after contracting coroanvirus
Earlier in the day, President-elect Joe Biden held an event campaigning for Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff (left) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (center)
Loeffler told Fox News on Monday night that she would join a dozen other Republican senators in a plot to challenge at least one state’s Electoral College results when Congress moves to certify the election for Joe Biden on Wednesday.
Trump announced on his Twitter Tuesday morning that Perdue was also joining the effort to challenge the results.
‘Pleased to announce that @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue have just joined our great #StopTheSteal group of Senators,’ the president posted. ‘They will fight the ridiculous Electoral College Certification of Biden. How do you certify numbers that have now proven to be wrong and, in many cases, fraudulent!’
A group of House Republicans, led by Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, started pushing the plan last month and have gained a lot of traction since then after the group of senators joined the effort.
Loeffler attended the rally Monday night, but Perdue is still quarantining after being in contact with a staffer who tested positive for COVID-19.
He joined the rally by video for a short time to address the crowd gathered on the tarmac for one of Trump’s last rallies of his presidency.
Trump lauded Loeffler and Perdue on Tuesday for joining a GOP effort in the Senate to challenge the Electoral College results in the joint session certifying the election for Joe Biden on January 6
During the rally, Trump demanded that Vice President Mike Pence ‘come through’ as he presides over Congress certifying the election on January 6 and Republicans carry out their plan to challenge the results.
‘I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. He’s a great guy,’ Trump told an audience Monday night. ‘Of course if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite as much.’
While the president’s biggest Capitol Hill allies challenge some of the states’ Electoral College counts, which could elongate the Congressional session for hours or even days, Pence will just announce the results.
Even though there is little to nothing Pence can do to change the outcome, Trump is suggesting he has the power to do so.
Thousands of the president’s most staunch supporters are descending on Washington D.C. on Wednesday to protest the election results, demanding Democrats ‘stop the steal’ and Trump be declared the true winner.
The GOP has been tearing itself apart from the inside out in the midst of the Georgia runoff as Republicans pick sides on standing with the president on his claims of widespread voter fraud or not.
Specifically, Georgia Republicans are publicly split on the matter.
In a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, Trump pressured him to find 11,780 votes for him in the Peach State to overturn Biden’s win there.
Audio of the call was leaked – by Raffensperger himself – on Sunday, and revealed a desperate Trump who, at times, begged, flattered and threatened the Georgia official, who is a Republican.
Trump has also attacked Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp for not doing enough to try and overturn the results after the state went blue in the presidential elections.
Kemp appeared at an election night party with Republican supporters of the two Senate candidates Tuesday in Atlanta.
Loeffler and Perdue, however, have stayed on the president’s side – not wanting to upset him and his supporters before their runoff elections.
Raphael Warnock becomes Georgia’s first black senator: Democrat pastor, 51, who leads church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached pays tribute to mother who ‘used to pick somebody else’s cotton’ as he claims Senate seat
- Warnock said last night: ‘Because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton picked her youngest son to be a senator’
- He was elected the first black Senator in the traditionally red state and became the first Democrat to be sent to the upper chamber by Georgians for 20 years
- Warnock grew up in the projects of Savannah with his 11 brothers and sisters
- His father Jonathan was a WWII veteran, business owner and preacher, while his mother Verlene worked picking cotton and tobacco in the summers
- Warnock, a divorced father-of-two, studied theology at the historically black Morehouse College and worked at churches in New York and Maryland
- In 2006, Warnock was called to Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached from 1960 until his assassination
By Ross Ibbetson for MailOnline
A Democrat pastor who leads the congregation at Martin Luther King Jr.’s church and whose mother used to pick cotton has been elected Georgia’s first black Senator.
Raphael Warnock, 51, claimed victory in the first of the state’s two Senate runoffs Wednesday, defeating Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler and becoming the first Democrat winner in 20 years.
‘The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,’ he told his supporters last night.
‘We proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.’
Georgia is still awaiting the result in the second runoff but it looks likely Democrat Jon Ossoff will oust Republican David Perdue in that race too in a brutal night for the GOP.
Warnock’s victory is a symbol of a striking shift in Georgia’s politics as the swelling number of diverse, college-educated voters flex their power in the heart of the Deep South.
Raphael Warnock with his parents Verlene and Jonathan Warnock after his graduation from Morehouse College
Raphael Warnock and his now ex-wife Ouleye Ndoye pictured together in September 2018 at Dr. Christine King Farris 90th Birthday Celebration in Atlanta. The pair divorced in May and shortly before the election police bodycam footage emerged showing a dispute between the pair during which Ndoye alleged Warnock ran over her foot with his car. He was never charged
His father, a veteran of the Second World War, worked as a preacher, mechanic in Savnnah
It follows Biden’s win in November, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.
Warnock’s mother Verlene who used to pick tobacco and cotton during the summers
The Associated Press declared Warnock the winner after an analysis of outstanding votes showed there was no way for Loeffler to catch up to his lead.
Warnock’s edge is likely to grow as more ballots are counted, many of which were in Democratic-leaning areas.
The divorced father-of-two acknowledged his improbable victory in a message to supporters, citing his family’s experience with poverty.
He grew up in the projects of Savannah with 11 brothers and sisters.
His father Jonathan, a veteran of the Second World War, worked as a preacher, mechanic and his mother Verlene used to pick tobacco and cotton during the summers.
‘My family was short on money, but long on love and faith,’ Warnock wrote earlier this year. ‘They (his parents) worked hard for what they had and saw the value in what others had discarded.’
Energised by his parents belief that he could do anything, Warnock gained a scholarship to the historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta.
He later earned a doctorate in philosophy from Union Theological Seminary, a school affiliated with Columbia University in Manhattan.
In the 1990s, Warnock worked as a youth pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and protested against Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s workfare program to cut benefits and get people into employment.
‘We are worried that workfare is being used to displace other workers who receive respectable compensation,’ Warnock told the New York Times in 1997.
‘We are concerned that poor people are being put into competition with other poor people, and in that respect, we think workfare is a hoax.’
In the early 2000s, he moved to become the senior pastor of senior pastor at Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
And in 2006, he was appointed the leader of MLK’s former congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta – the youngest senior pastor since its founding.
Rev. Raphael Warnock delivers the eulogy for Rayshard Brooks’ funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in June
In 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction at the public prayer service at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Obama is pictured giving the eulogy at the funeral service for the late Rep. John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church on July 30, 2020
‘Fourteen years ago, the kid who grew up in the projects was called to Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit,’ Warnock wrote in June.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gesturing toward heaven while delivering sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He worked at the church as co-pastor alongside his father from 1960 until his assassination in 1968
Martin Luther Sr. helped lead the church with his father-in-law in the 1920s before taking over in 1931.
Thirty years later his own son Martin Luther King Jr. would join him at the church, working as co-pastor until his assassination in 1968.
King’s funeral was held at Ebenezer on April 9, 1968.
Warnock took up the mantle of the great history of the Ebenezer pastors in setting out the stall for social justice and invited Barack Obama to speak at the church in the early days of the 2008 presidential campaign.
In 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction at the public prayer service for Obama’s second inauguration.
‘Somebody asked why a pastor thinks he should serve in the Senate,’ Warnock said in a recent campaign video.
‘Well, I committed my whole life to service and helping people realize their highest potential. I’ve always thought my impact doesn’t stop at the church door. That’s actually where it starts.’
According to the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Warnock is the first member of Congress from the South since Reconstruction to ‘explicitly profess the spiritual tradition of the social gospel as envisioned and designed by people of African descent.’
Democrats were last night banking on the ‘activist pastor’ to come good, with thousands in the state furious about the division they believe Trump has sown and the healthcare response to Covid-19.
It’s also a state where around three-quarters of the population regularly attend church.
Warnock is firmly of the view that the word of Jesus Christ should guide politics and that politics is essential to the work of the church.
‘What we’re really talking about is a renaissance of the Kingian tradition, which is really bigger than the left or the right, and red and blue,’ he told The Atlantic.
‘It’s a deep human-rights tradition that is … informed by Christian tradition, but is not limited to it.’
His opponent Loeffler tried to paint Warnock as a radical, something which MLK experienced.
But it’s something which Warnock has learned to take in his stride.
‘I’m an activist preacher,’ he said earlier this year. ‘I’m a Matthew 25 Christian, where Jesus says, ‘I was hungry, and you fed me.”
His policies are progressive: he opposes all abortion restrictions, supports gay marriage, opposes concealed carry of firearms, talks often about living wages for workers and refers to the death penalty as ‘the last fail-safe for white supremacy.’
From 2016 to 2020, Warnock was married to Oulèye Ndoye, with whom he shares two children.
The couples’ divorce was finalized in May, two months earlier Ndoye accused Warnock of running over her foot with a car while trying to get out an argument.
They were disputing whether their two children should be allowed to travel to Senegal to Ndoye’s relatives.
Police were called to their home, and Warnock was caught on camera telling the officer his wife called the police on him, alleging that he had run over her foot.
Footage of the incident was released shortly before the runoff election.
Warnock and Ndoye, pictured in their 2014 wedding, have two children together
Ouleye Ndoye, 35, told police that she ‘tried to keep the way that he acts under wraps’
Medical officials did not find visible signs of injury on his wife’s foot.
A police report, referring to Grady Memorial Hospital first-responders, noted that an inspection of Ndoye’s foot showed no broken bones, swelling or contusions.
Warnock was never charged with a crime.
When her accusations were first made public, in March, Warnock addressed the incident in a sermon.
‘God looks on the heart. We live on the outside. God knows what’s happening on the inside,’ he said.
‘And while divorce is not ideal, divorce is not the worst thing that can happen to you. So pray for us.
‘The second thing I want to say to you – and I hope you will hear me because I’m going to say it once. I’ve been here 15 years, almost 15 years now. I want you to know that I am the man that you have known me to be. The work that we’ve done together in public reflects my values and who I am in private. Same man in public and in private.’
Senator Kelly Loeffler
Republican Kelly Loeffler was appointed to her seat over the objections of President Trump, and spent her tenure trying to put as little daylight as possible between her and the president.
The richest senator, Loeffler, 50, was never Trump’s favorite. The president preferred conservative loyalist Rep. Doug Collins for the vacancy that came up with the retirement of Sen. Johnny Isaakson in 2019.
She opposed Trump’s impeachment, and bragged about her ‘100 percent Trump voting record’ on the campaign trail.
But the former exec who co-owns the Atlanta Dream WNBA team made political stumbles throughout her tenure, which made her an endangered incumbent heading into November and then again in January even in a Republican-leaning state.
On Monday night, at a rally where Trump campaigned for her, she announced that she would back the challenge to the election that Trump is demanding when Congress meets Wednesday to count the Electoral College votes.
When she appeared with Trump Monday at the nighttime rally, she pointed awkwardly in the air and spoke for just seconds. Two weeks ago, at another rally with Ivanka Trump, crowd members chanted over her while she was trying to tout the case for her own reeelction.
‘Fight for Trump! … Stop the steal!’ audience members chanted.
After the killing of George Floyd, she clashed with the WNBA after teams promoted a Black Lives Matter message. Players responded on her own team responded by wearing matching ‘Vote Warnock’ t-shirts.
She was appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in December 2019 after then-Senator Johnny Isakson announced he was resigning for health reasons.
Kemp was a Trump ally, although the president has of late blasted him as a RINO for failing to support his effort to overturn the election results in his state.
Loeffler considers herself the most conservative Republican in the Senate and has aligned herself fully with Trump – touting her ‘100 per cent Trump voting record’ while campaigning.
Before ascending to Congress, Loeffler served as CEO of Bakkt, a digital asset conversion company, a subsidiary of her husband Jeffrey Sprecher’s financial service provider Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange. She also co-owns WNBA team the Atlanta Dream.
She faced a bitter primary against Collins, a Trump loyalist and defender in the House. She also had to stand for her first election on the ballot at a time when Georgia became a presidential battleground. Democrat Joe Biden would end up defeating Trump by 11,779 votes.
She also had to contend with accusations of insider trading even as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the nation. She and her husband traded millions worth of stocks between January and mid-February. This included stocks where the pandemic had an effect.
The Daily Beast reported on the trade, which took place after Loeffler attended a closed Jan. 24 Senate briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, in March.
Under growing pressure, she announced that she and her husband were liquidating stocks they held in individual companies.
The Justice Department closed an investigation into her stock trades, and the Senate Ethics Committee determined she did not break rules or laws. Senate rules allow members to trade stocks, but require their disclosure.
After she was forced into a runoff against Warnock, Loeffler’s path was complicated by Trump’s efforts to overturn the results certified in her state -including after a hand recount. She would call for the resignation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who pushed back on Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
But she dodged questions on whether she would back Trump’s election challenges when Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes.
It was only on Monday that she announced she would back Trump’s effort.
Loeffler and Sprecher, 65, were married in 2004 and have no children. Their net worth is $800 million, making Loeffler the richest member of Congress, by far. The two reside in Tuxedo Park – a neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia – in a $10.5 million estate.
Reverend Raphael Warnock
Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock, 51, is looking to take Senator Kelly Loeffler’s Senate seat in his first run for public office. The reverend rose to prominence in Georgia politics in 2014 when he emerged a leader in the effort to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Warnock chaired the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan organization focused on voter registration, from June 2017 to January 2020. He has also served as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia since 2005 – the same church where Marin Luther King Jr. preached alongside his father from 1959 until his death in 1968.
In 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction at the public prayer service for Barack Obama’s second inauguration. As Warnock geared up for his 2020 Senate run, he hosted in March 2019 an interfaith meeting on climate change at his church, featuring Al Gore.
The reverend grew up in public housing in Savannah, Georgia as the eleventh of twelve children of two Pentecostal pastors.
From 2016 to 2020, Warnock was married to Oulèye Ndoye, with whom he shares two children. His now-ex-wife accused Warnock of running over her foot with a car while trying to get out of an argument. Body camera footage of Warnock’s interview with police during the incident was made public before the runoff election.
Senator David Perdue
David Perdue, 71, first became a U.S. senator for Georgia in 2015, replacing retiring Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. This year is his first reelection campaign, and he didn’t earn the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff. Perdue is a cousin of President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Before seeking public office, Perdue served as senior vice president for Reebok and later joined PillowTex, a North Carolina textile company. Following that, he was CEO of Dollar General. In the list of most rich members of Congress, Perdue falls at No. 21 with a net worth of 15.8 million.
Perdue, like his Georgia colleague Kelly Loeffler, was linked to a congressional insider trading scandal in 2020 for selling stocks before the market crashed in a fallout from the coroanvirus pandemic. They both allegedly used knowledge from a closed Senate meeting to make stock decision.
Perdue resides in Sea Island, Georgia with his wife Bonnie Dunn, who he married in 1972. The couple has two sons and three grandchildren. They had a daughter who died in infancy.
Thomas Jonathan Ossoff, who goes by Jon, is, by far, the youngest candidate in Georgia’s runoff elections at just 33. To become a U.S senator, candidates must be 30 on the day of swearing in.
In 2017, Ossoff launch a bid to become a representative in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The district was long considered a Republican stronghold, but Ossoff came in first – without earning the 50 per cent to win. He ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel in a runoff.
He interned for Representative John Lewis before spending five years as a national security staffer to Representative Hank Johnson – leaving in 2012 to earn a master’s degree at the London School of Economics.
Since 2013, Ossoff has served as managing director and CEO of Insight TWI, a London-based investigative television production company creating documentaries on corruption in foreign countries.
Ossoff, who was raised Jewish, is married to Alisha Kramer, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Emory University.
The Democratic candidates prides himself on being a child of an immigrant – his mother, Heather Fenton, is Australian – and his multimillionaire father Richard Ossoff owns a specialist publishing company.