Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff came out victorious in Tuesday’s Georgia U.S. Senate runoff races against incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
Warnock and Ossoff’s wins in the Peach State is a huge victory for Democrats, giving the party a crucial majority in the U.S. Senate.
Warnock and Ossoff’s wins in the Peach State is a major victory for Democrats, giving the party a majority in the U.S. Senate, effectively sidelining Republicans and giving the Democratic Party full control of both chambers of Congress.
The new majority in the Senate and the current majority in the U.S. House of Representatives also clears the path for Democrats President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their legislative agenda for the next two years.
The newly-won seats give Democrats a 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate with Vice President-elect Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.
Warnock, with his win, made history as the first Black American to be elected to the U.S. Senate in the state’s history. Both the Ebenezer Baptist Church senior pastor and Ossoff, a 33-year-old investigative journalist, have never held public office.
A survey of voters conducted by the Associated Press found that Warnock and Ossoff’s support largely came from Black voters, younger voters, people earning $50,000 or less, and newcomers to Georgia. By contrast, Loeffler, who was appointed to her senate seat in December 2019, and Perdue, who served only one term, found their support from white, older, wealthier and longtime residents.
Warnock and Ossoff’s victories also mirror the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Georgia elected Biden over President Donald Trump and flipped blue for the first time in nearly 30 years. Biden’s victory, and by proxy the Senate runoffs, was largely credited to Black voters and organizers like former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, among other organizers in Georgia, who collectively helped to register more than 800,000 voters since 2018.
In a virtual speech from his Atlanta home, Warnock said he was humbled by his win and vowed to “work for all of Georgia.”
“I stand before you as a man who knows that the improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here. We were told we couldn’t win this election, but tonight we proved that, with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible,” said Warnock.”I am so honored by the faith that you have shown in me, and I promise you this: I am going to the Senate to work for Georgia, all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election.”
In an exclusive interview with theGrio in November, Warnock insisted his only ambition in running for office was to make a difference in the everyday lives of Georgians, particularly during a viral pandemic and racial divisions in America.
“We need to stick together as an American people, this virus that we’re waging war against or need to be waging war against more valiantly. It doesn’t know red from blue, and it doesn’t know black from white. It’s a virus,” Warnock told theGrio. “And we have to do battle against the virus of COVID-19 and we have to wage war against what I call the virus of COVID-1619 — the ways in which our age-old problem with race and this country keep showing up over and over again.”
Warnock, a graduate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater Morehouse College, believes he is uniquely positioned to transform America to better reflect communities that have been traditionally pushed to the margins.
“The grand story that connects King to Morehouse, to Ebenezer, to all of the great struggles we’ve seen in this country, civil rights, women’s rights, the rights of members of the LGBTQ plus community, disabled folk who need access and had to stand up to the American Disabilities Act. That grand story is about the enlarging of our democracy,” he told theGrio.
“The broadening of a space so that everybody can breathe. That’s what America is about. That’s what my career has been about and that’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate.”
In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Ossoff said that if he were elected to the U.S. Senate his legislative agenda would include passing a new Civil Rights Act to end racial profiling and police brutality and “empowering doctors and scientists to fight COVID-19 and get economic relief to people who need it.”
Racial justice was a consistent campaign theme for Ossoff, who interned for the late Civil Rights Icon Rep. John Lewis, who later became a mentor to him. In a campaign ad called Selma, Ossoff recalled how Lewis helped shape his values and commitment to seeking justice for all Americans.
“Congressman Lewis gave me my first job. He instilled in me the conviction to fight for justice. He said to never give in, never give up, keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize,” Ossoff said in the ad.
“The promise of equal justice in America remains unfulfilled. So together we’ll fight for a new Civil Rights Act and a new Voting Rights Act to ensure equal justice for all no matter the color of our skin, to end racial profiling and police brutality, and to stop anyone from suppressing the sacred right to vote.”
Story & Photo Credit: Gerren Keith Gaynor/thegrio