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Warnock defeats Loeffler in Georgia Senate runoff

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NBC News


Raphael Warnock on Wednesday morning was projected to have defeated Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerTrump’s final push for Georgia runoff dominated by personal grievances Trump at Georgia rally says he hopes Pence ‘comes through for us’  Raffensperger demands Perdue apologize after wife got death threats following November call for resignation MORE (R) in their Senate runoff in Georgia, bringing the Democrats within reach of the majority in the upper chamber.

All the major networks called the race for Warnock shortly before 2 a.m. EST on Wednesday. The Associated Press called it at 2 a.m. EST. 

Warnock, who is the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, will be the first African American to represent Georgia in the Senate. 

The pastor declared victory in a video address after midnight on Wednesday. 

“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,” Warnock said. “So 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.” 

Warnock will be up for reelection in 2022 because the race was a special election.

Loeffler showed no signs of conceding the race just after midnight Wednesday, calling for every vote to be counted. 

“It’s worth it for this election to last into tomorrow. We’re going to make sure that every vote is counted,” she said prior to the race being called. “We have a path to victory and we’re staying on it.”

Neither Loeffler nor Warnock reached the 50 percent threshold needed to win the general election in November, sending the race into a runoff. Warnock, who benefited from then-Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsWarnock says he needs to win ‘by comfortable margin’ because ‘funny things go on’ The Memo: 48 hours that will shape start of Biden presidency Trump, Biden face new head-to-head contest in Georgia MORE (R-Ga.) running in the nonpartisan blanket primary alongside Loeffler, garnered roughly 33 percent of the vote at that time. Loeffler brought in around 26 percent.

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However, with the Republican side consolidated, polls showed a tight race leading up to Tuesday. The Real Clear Politics polling average showed Warnock leading by just 1.8 percentage points on the Monday before the runoff.

Warnock criticized Loeffler over her initial lack of support for the $2,000 stimulus checks for Congress’s coronavirus relief package in the final weeks of the campaign.

“Billionaire @KLoeffler thinks $600 will cover your rent, groceries, and hospital bills,” Warnock tweeted last month.

Loeffler eventually came out in support of the checks after President TrumpDonald TrumpAttorney says census count to determine congressional seats won’t be done until February Trump’s final push for Georgia runoff dominated by personal grievances Trump at Georgia rally says he hopes Pence ‘comes through for us’  MORE hit Congress for including $600 stimulus checks instead of $2,000. But Warnock still hit Loeffler for not pushing hard enough for a vote on the checks.

“Instead of flying back to Washington, D.C., and insisting that they put up the stimulus [bill] for a vote, Kelly Loeffler was so busy trying to keep her job that she’s not doing her job,” Warnock said at a rally on Riverdale, Ga., on Monday.

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