The Rev. Raphael Warnock won the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff, flipping a Republican seat and bringing Democrats one step closer to unified control of Congress and the White House, according to NBC News projections. The other race in the state between Jon Ossoff and Senator David Perdue is still too close to call. Frank Luntz, pollster and political strategist, joins “Squawk Box” to discuss. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
The Rev. Raphael Warnock won the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff, flipping a Republican seat and bringing Democrats one step closer to unified control of Congress and the White House, according to NBC News projections.
In the other Senate runoff election, Democrat Jon Ossoff was leading Republican Sen. David Perdue with 98% of the expected vote counted, but NBC said the race was too close.
Warnock’s projected victory over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler would make the Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor the first African American senator elected in Georgia and the first Black Democrat from the South. Two Black Republicans from Mississippi served in the Senate during Reconstruction.
He will be one of three Black senators in the new session of Congress and the 11th in history.
“I come before you tonight 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,” Warnock said early Wednesday. “I promise you this tonight: I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election.”
Loeffler, a former business executive who was appointed to temporarily fill the Senate seat, did not concede on Wednesday, saying: “We are going to win this election.”
With Warnock’s projected win, the Democratic caucus has 49 members in the upper chamber, while Senate Republicans hold 50 seats. If Ossoff wins, the Senate will be evenly split, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote. Democratic control of Congress would give President-elect Joe Biden more leeway to enact his legislative priorities.
“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,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Wednesday. If Ossoff is elected, Schumer would be the Senate majority leader after Harris takes office as vice president.
Warnock, 51, and Loeffler, 50, emerged as the top two finishers from a crowded special election in November. The seat opened up after former Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson retired. Under Georgia election rules, both Senate seats moved to runoffs because none of the candidates received more than 50% of the vote in November.
The special election between Loeffler and Warnock was the second most expensive Senate race ever, just behind this year’s contest between Perdue and Ossoff, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Loeffler and Warnock’s race has drawn nearly $363 million as of Monday.
On the campaign trail, Warnock frequently highlighted his life journey, from growing up in Savannah’s public housing to preaching on the storied Atlanta pulpit where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once sermonized.
Loeffler repeatedly branded her opponent as “radical liberal Raphael Warnock,” tying him to what she believes to be a socialist agenda including “Medicare for All,” the Green New Deal and defunding the police. Warnock himself does not support those policies, though he has advocated for Medicaid expansion, green energy investment and criminal justice reform.
“He is someone who would fundamentally change this country,” Loeffler said Sunday on Fox News. “His values are out of step with Georgia.”
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