ATLANTA (CN) — Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff has won his Georgia runoff contest against Republican Senator David Perdue, giving President-elect Joe Biden’s party control of the chamber.
Ossoff won 50.28% of the vote compared to Perdue’s 49.72%, putting him just beyond the threshold that would have allowed Perdue to request a recount. Georgia law allows a losing candidate to request a recount if the final margin is 0.5 percentage points or less.
In the other runoff election, Democrat Raphael Warnock secured a win against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. Warnock will make history as Georgia’s first Black senator. He holds a 1.4-point lead over Loeffler, also putting him beyond the threshold for a recount.
With both Democratic victories confirmed Wednesday afternoon, the balance in the Senate will shift to a 50-50 tie, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
Turnout in Tuesday’s runoff election shattered Georgia records, with 4.4 million votes counted by Wednesday morning. According to state election officials, most of the votes still to be counted are in Democratic-leaning counties.
The results are further evidence of a seismic electoral shift in the Peach State after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992.
With Warnock’s confirmed win, Georgia will send a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in 20 years.
“We were told that we couldn’t win this election, but tonight we prove that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible. May my story be an inspiration to some young person who is trying to grasp and grab hold of the American dream,” Warnock said in a livestream early Wednesday morning.
Biden congratulated Warnock on his “groundbreaking win” in a statement Wednesday morning.
The incoming president also thanked former state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for laying “the difficult groundwork necessary to encourage turnout and protect the vote over these last years.”
After narrowly losing the 2018 gubernatorial election to Republican Brian Kemp, Abrams started the Fair Fight Initiative to help register and mobilize record numbers of minority voters.
Biden, who headlined an Atlanta rally for Warnock and Ossoff on Monday, said Warnock’s win and Ossoff’s likely victory will give leaders a chance to deliver both action and unity in Washington, particularly when it comes to the pandemic and economic relief.
“It looks like we will emerge from yesterday’s election with Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, and of course I’m pleased that we will be able to work with Speaker Pelosi and a Majority Leader Schumer. But I’m also just as determined today as I was yesterday to try to work with people in both parties — at the federal, state, and local levels — to get big things done for our nation,” Biden said.
Loeffler, meanwhile, vowed to continue fighting in an address to her supporters late Tuesday.
“We’ve got some work to do here,” she said. “This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed Warnock and Ossoff to the Senate in a statement Wednesday and looked optimistically to Democrats’ new ability to pursue their agenda, saying, “It feels like a brand new day.”
“For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people,” Schumer said. “America is experiencing one of the greatest crises we have ever faced, and the Senate Democratic majority is committed to delivering the bold change and help Americans need and demand. Senate Democrats know America is hurting — help is on the way.”