Democrat Raphael Warnock has won the Senate runoff election in Georgia, handing US President-elect Joe Biden’s party the chance to seize control of the Senate ahead of his entry to the White House later this month.
Warnock, a former pastor from Atlanta, has defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler to become the first Black senator in the US state.
In a speech announcing his victory, Warnock said: “To everyone out there struggling today — whether you voted for me or not — know this: I see you. I hear you. And I will fight for you. I will fight for your family.”
Today’s two Senate runoff elections in Georgia will determine which party controls the Senate, with Democrats needing to secure both seats to snatch back power from Republicans.
A Democrat win would deliver a major boost for Biden’s chances of getting his legislative agenda passed when he officially becomes President on 20 January.
The other seat in Georgia currently remains too close to call. Democrat Jon Ossoff has tipped ahead of Republican David Perdue by 9,527 votes, while most of the remaining votes to be counted are in Democratic-leaning counties.
The Ossoff campaign this morning said: “We fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won”.
Ossoff’s current lead is a margin of less than 0.2 percentage points. Under Georgia law, candidates may request a recount if an election margin is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points.
Republicans only need one seat to keep Mitch McConnell as majority leader in the state.
The US Congress will convene in a joint session tomorrow afternoon to receive the certified presidential election results from the states and announce an official winner.
Incumbent President Donald Trump has continued to cast aspersions about the validity of the runoff elections in Georgia.
The President caused global outrage over the weekend when a leaked audio recording showed him pressuring Georgia’s top election official Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s presidential election win in the state.
Two Democrats yesterday asked the FBI to open a criminal investigation into the phone call over claims it suggested potential electoral interference by the President.