Jan. 6 (UPI) — Democrat Raphael Warnock was projected to beat Republican appointee Sen. Kelly Loeffler early Wednesday in one of the two Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia’s runoff election that will determine which political party controls the Senate.
According to Georgia election data, some 35,600 more ballots were cast in Warnock’s name than in Loeffler’s, securing him a 50.4% vote share to Loeffler’s 49.59%.
With the victory, Warnock will become the first Black senator from Georgia.
In the other race, some 1,300 ballots separate the two candidates early Wednesday with Perdue receiving 50.02% of the vote to Ossoff’s 49.98%.
Warnock, the pastor of the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church, claimed victory earlier Wednesday in a live stream, stating his win should stand as inspiration for others who “are tying to grasp and grab hold to the American dream.”
“I am honored by the faith that you have shown in me and I promise you this tonight: I am going to Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for this election,” he said.
Loeffler told her supporters early Wednesday that there were still votes to count and “it’s worth it for this election to last into tomorrow.”
Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s former Democratic House leader, congratulated Warnock on Twitter.
“Last January, I endorsed my dear friend in his quest to serve. Soon, he will walk those august halls and cast votes as a leader with courage, justice and integrity,” she said. “God bless you and keep you in your service to us all.”
If Ossoff wins the final runoff election from Tuesday, the parties would each have 50 seats with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to act as the tie breaker in votes, which would flip the power of the Senate to the Democrats.
Ellen Foster, Ossoff’s campaign manager, said in a statement early Wednesday that they “fully” expect Ossoff to join Warnock in the Senate.
“The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant,” she said. “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.”
Perdue’s campaign also issued a statement of confidence early Wednesday, stating “we believe in the end Sen. Perdue will be victorious.”
“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,” the campaign said. “We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted.”
Polls had closed Tuesday evening with more than 4.3 million votes cast, 3 million of which were cast early.