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Democrats Will Control Senate As Ossoff Wins Georgia Runoff

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

As violent Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent Congress from counting the electoral votes that made Joe Biden the president-elect, Jon Ossoff has been projected to defeat David Perdue, winning his Georgia Senate runoff and giving Democrats the narrowest possible control of the Senate. Ossoff's lead is larger than Biden's win in the state in November, and is expected to grow outside the one-half percent margin under which Perdue could request a recount.

Ossoff joins Senator-elect Raphael Warnock in making history, as Georgia will send to Washington, D.C., its first Black senator and its first Jewish one. Just over a century ago, Georgia was the site of the anti-Semitic lynching of Leo Frank. His win comes on a day when we are reminded of the nation's history of white supremacist violence.

With Ossoff and Warnock, the Senate's partisan split will be 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, in her role as president of the Senate, breaking ties. This makes Biden's job in the early weeks of his presidency much, much easier—rather than a series of protracted confirmation battles, with Mitch McConnell in the majority leader role refusing to even give some nominees a vote, Biden can make the nominations he wants and focus on other things. But, again, the events of the day are a stark reminder of how much damage there is to undo.

What Really Happened In Those Historic Georgia Runoffs -- And Why

Georgia voters are on the verge of sending two new Democratic senators to Washington as the finale of a presidential election season that has historically recast Georgia's political identity and will yield a Democratic Senate majority with a new mandate for Joe Biden's presidency.

Rev. Raphael Warnock was 40,000 votes ahead of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican incumbent, with more than 98 percent of an estimated 4.5 million ballots counted by early Wednesday. With most of the uncounted ballots in metro Atlanta counties, where 75-to-80 percent of an increasingly diverse electorate voted Democratic, Georgia is sending a Black minister to the U.S. Senate, a major historical achievement.

"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," Warnock told his supporters after midnight. "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."

Shortly before 2 AM Wednesday, the other Democrat in a runoff election, Jon Ossoff, pulled ahead of Sen. David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, as returns came in from populous metro Atlanta counties. While some rural counties had yet to finish reporting their counts, election officials said the majority of the remaining votes would favor Democrats.

"Yes, that's correct," Gabriel Sterling, a top state election official and a Republican, told CNN late on Tuesday, discussing the remaining uncounted votes. "It's really an irony because in the '60s and '70s, that [Atlanta region] was the hotbed of the Republican takeover in Georgia."

"We fully expect" to win, the Ossoff campaign said in a statement. "The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon's performance has been dominant."

Warnock's margin of victory exceeded the state's legal threshold for a recount. However, the Perdue-Ossoff race could be headed for a recount if its margin was less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast. With 98 percent of the votes counted early Wednesday, Ossoff was ahead by nearly 13,000 votes.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told CNN that he estimated that 4.5 million votes were cast in the recount, making the recount trigger about 22,500 votes. The last votes to be counted will be 17,000 overseas and military ballots that can arrive as late as Friday, he said.

Early on Wednesday, Perdue's campaign issued a statement claiming that they won and said it would use "every available resource and exhaust every recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted." If no recount were triggered, Perdue would have few options.

A Historic Finale to 2020

Should both Democrats prevail, the impact on the nation's political life and federal governance cannot be underestimated. On virtually every major issue that Democrats care about, the Biden administration would have been met with resistance had the Senate remained a Republican-led body. Once Georgia's senators are seated, the body will have a 50-50 split between parties, but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be a tie-breaker, giving Democrats control over the Senate agenda, committee assignments and administration's appointees, including judges.

Those ramifications will play out after the Trump administration leaves office on January 20. On Wednesday, the Trump administration and its allies are expected to try to block Congress's certification of the 2020 Electoral College votes. Trump's allies will claim that the 2020 election was stolen, as they have in 63 lawsuits that have been filed in state and federal courts to challenge the results in swing states where Trump lost. Trump and his allies have lost all but one of those lawsuits, often due to lack of vote fraud evidence.

On Tuesday night, Trump and several high-profile supporters—his White House spokeswoman and a Fox News host—tweeted the Georgia runoffs were fraudulent. Their claim was baseless because while there were some election administration problems on Tuesday, no observer or credible source reported any vote-forging chicanery. Every top statewide official in Georgia, including the governor and election director, is a Republican. If anything, the state has been very aggressive in investigating voter fraud in 2020. It has found almost no wrongdoing.

Trump's antics should not detract from the historic achievement seen in Georgia. The state emerged as a national political battleground in November after Biden's surprise victory. The apparent victory of two Democrats in a runoff that set voter turnout records affirmed that its political landscape was undergoing historic change. The heart of that transformation was the result of years of effort by grassroots organizing led by the Black community, but more recently expanding into other communities of color and the state's newest residents.

Some pundits outside Georgia will credit Trump's attacks on the state's election system and top elected officials—for not manipulating the count to ensure that he won—as the top reasonwhy insufficient numbers of Republicans did not vote in the runoffs. But that analysis is not the full story. The runoffs had near-presidential election turnout levels, which showed that Georgians in both parties were engaged. What the Trump-centric analysis omits are the unprecedented efforts by communities of color to unite to turn out voters in November and in the runoffs.

Old-line groups, such as the Georgia county-level NAACP chapters, found themselves working with tech-savvy organizers who had tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country. Frontline groups were supported up with post card, phone bank and texting campaigns. In the state's urban and rural communities, Black sororities, fraternities and community organizations partnered with new groups of younger activists and organizers. While the Senate runoffs set records for spending on political advertising, the grassroots efforts turned out voters across the state. In short, for the first time in many years, Georgians could see their votes mattered.

In coming days, there will be numerous analyses and reports affirming these trends. On CNN early Wednesday morning, campaign data analysts noted that Biden's 12,000-vote victory over Trump was a floor, or a baseline, for Democrats to prevail in a statewide race. With 150,000 or more votes yet to be counted, Warnock's margin was more than three times that size.

Smart analysts like CNN's Harry Enten noted that Warnock didn't just win in Atlanta's suburbs—where many moderate Republicans voted for Biden. Warnock's percentages in rural counties often was equal to, or exceeded Biden's percentages, by several points. Warnock's campaign, like many grassroots groups, targeted and turned out overlooked voters of color. Those rural counties are still mostly run by elected white Republicans, but their political complexion is changing as non-white voters are discovering that they have power.

While the coming days may see partisan Republicans accuse Georgia's election officials of running fraud-ridden Senate runoffs and even file litigation to challenge the results, there's little indication that those efforts will succeed. Trump's allies lost every lawsuit filed before Tuesday's runoffs. State law requires county officials to certify the results by January 15. The state must certify the election by January 22—two days after Biden's inauguration.

In Warnock's speech early Wednesday, he called on all participants in political life to start working together to help ordinary people solve life's problems.

"In this moment in American history, Washington has a choice to make; we all have a choice to make," he said. "Will we continue to divide, distract and dishonor one and other, or will we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? Will we play political games while real people suffer or will we win righteous fights together, standing shoulder to shoulder, for the good of Georgia, for the good of the country?"

With Ossoff Near Victory In Georgia, Democrats Closing On Control Of Senate

With only one percent of votes still outstanding, Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff held a lead of about 16,000 votes over incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue in yesterday's Georgia Senate runoff. The historic surge of Black voters that ensured victory for Rev. Raphael Warnock -- the Democrat who won the other Georgia Senate seat from appointed Sen. Kelly Loefller in the same election -- seemed likely to boost Ossoff, since remaining votes are from Democratic precincts, according to most analysts.

Victories by both Democrats will assure their party's control of the upper chamber in Congress as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take over the White House. Although the Senate would be tied at 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, Harris would be empowered as vice president to cast tie-breaking votes that assured her party's control.

At 33, Ossoff would be the youngest member of the Senate elected in decades and the first Jewish senator from his home state.

Both Georgia Democrats had lagged in the late evening count, but pulled ahead as votes from heavily Democratic DeKalb County came in early this morning. Neither Loeffler nor Perdue have conceded with both insisting that they will ultimately prevail.

Ossoff's campaign manager Ellen Foster issued a statement that stopped just short of claiming victory.

"When all the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election to represent Georgia in the United States Senate," said Foster. "The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon's performance has been dominant."

Nevertheless, Perdue's campaign issued its own statement: "This is an exceptionally close election that will require time and transparency to be certain the results are fair and accurate and the voices of Georgians are heard. We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted. We believe in the end, Senator Perdue will be victorious."

Rev. Raphael Warnock Defeats Kelly Loeffler In Georgia Senate Runoff

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The Rev. Raphael Warnock is now Senator-elect Raphael Warnock. He is projected to defeat Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of Georgia's two runoff elections.

Warnock, the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, will become Georgia's first Black senator. He kicked off the runoff campaign with one of the more memorable and effective ads in recent election cycles, and then followed it up with another one using the same themes, just as effective.

Loeffler was appointed to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson when he retired, so she cannot be said to have lost reelection. Rather, she failed ever to be elected—and she failed on the basis of a racist campaign in which she relentlessly pandered to Donald Trump and the worst of his base. In a last-ditch pander, Loeffler promised Monday night to join the Republicans objecting to the counting of electors from battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden. (And after it became clear she was going to lose, late on Tuesday night she announced she was heading to Washington to follow through on that pledge.)

A Democrat won the presidential race in Georgia. A Black Democrat is going to the Senate from the state. Holy wow, and a big thank you to Stacey Abrams, Nse Ufot, and so many other tireless organizers.