Georgia Voters Allow Dems to Run Off With the Senate

Sophie Gebhardt, Journalist

Despite a global pandemic and accusations of mass election fraud in the general election, there was a record turn-out for the Georgia Senate runoffs. There were more Georgians voting in this runoff election than the 2016 Presidential election. This record turnout turned out to be in favor of the Democrats, as Senator-elects Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both prevailed over the incumbent Republicans. 

 

The runoff process is one of the more controversial topics in politics. In Georgia elections, if a candidate does not receive 50% of the vote in the general election, the top two candidates then go to a runoff race. In the general election, David Perdue led Jon Ossoff with 49.7% of the vote, while in the special election race, Raphael Warnock led Kelly Loeffler with 32.9% of the vote. Loefler was appointed to the Senate seat by the Governor of Georgia to complete the term of Senator Johnny Isakson, who resigned at the end of 2019 citing health issues. As 50% of the vote was not won by a candidate in either race in November, both Senate seats went to the runoff election. Despite the Democrats’ success in this race, many historians argue that it was meant to work against their favor by making it more difficult for the candidate primarily supported by the Black Community to win – thus suppressing the political power of African Americans and other minority groups.

 

Both parties campaigned vigorously in Georgia during the weeks before the runoff election. There was almost a half billion dollars in campaign funding pumped into the state for these two races. Expresident Trump and President Biden were among the array of politicians rallying for their respective party’s candidates. While Trump’s presence in Georgia may have helped Loeffler and Perdue, it was not enough to overcome the efforts on the opposite side on the political spectrum. The Democrats’ success is largely attributed to years of party organizing and the mobilization of the Black voter community. A lot of credit is also given to former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who led a lot of these campaigns for voter outreach in Georgia especially amongst the Black Community. 

 

Ossoff and Warnock also championed historic victories in the state of Georgia. With the state leaning heavily Republican in the past decades, it has been around 25 years since the last Democractic Senator from GA was elected to a full term. Raphael Warnock will also become the first Black senator from Georgia and the 11th African American senator to ever serve in the US Senate. 

 

Before making their respective Senate campaigns, Ossoff and Warnock were both involved in careers outside of politics. Ossoff dipped his toes in politics as a high school student, interning for US Representative John Lewis. He went on to serve as a national security aide for US Representative Hank Johnson before working in investigative journalism. Ossoff ran for The House of Representatives in the 2017 House Special Election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district where he lost in a runoff election. Raphael Warnock was previously a senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation of Martin Luther King Jr. as well as Congressman John Lewis.  

 

These crucial wins for the Democrats have shifted the balance away from the Republican Majority to a 50-50 split between parties. While there is technically no majority in the Senate, the Democrats will be able to use Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote as President of the Senate for bills split amongst party lines.