Georgia voters have the chance to decide who will represent them in the United States Senate today. The January 5 Senate runoff elections between Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and their Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will have impacts far beyond the Peach State. The races will determine which of the two major parties controls the Senate, with huge consequences on the line for the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
According to the state’s website, Election Day polls in Georgia open at 7:00 a.m. local time, and won’t close until 7:00 p.m., so we’ll be waiting for any results until this evening at the earliest. As the 2020 general election demonstrated, administering hotly contested elections during the COVID-19 pandemic can present time-consuming challenges. Georgia was one of the last states to be called in the 2020 presidential election.
Both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden held events in Georgia the day before the Senate election. This all comes after voter fraud claims Trump made in a call with the Georgia secretary of state, the audio of which was obtained by the Washington Post. Trump still seems to be focused on his attempted coup and, in the process, baselessly alleged over the weekend that the runoffs were “illegal and invalid.”
Here’s what we know about each race right now and turnout as Election Day begins. This post will be updated as results become available.
Warnock vs. Loeffler
Reverend Raphael Warnock and Senator Kelly Loeffler are facing off in a special election. Loeffler was appointed by Republican governor Brian Kemp in 2019 after the previous senator resigned. She and Warnock advanced to the runoff after neither got a majority of the vote in November. Whoever wins will serve out the remainder of the current term — two years — before being up for election again in 2022.
According to his website, Warnock grew up in public housing in Savannah before going to Morehouse College and eventually becoming an ordained minister and the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, preaching from a pulpit previously used by Martin Luther King, Jr. Warnock has called the Georgia Senate ticket he shares with Ossoff a “representation of the new South.”
On her website, Loeffler touts her “blue-collar upbringing in the heart of rural America,” but according to a December profile from the New York Times, she is from an affluent farming family based in central Illinois and was given farmland when she was in her early 20s, and well-off enough to have an apartment in Chicago’s notoriously expensive Gold Coast neighborhood by 24. Loeffler’s husband is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, she used to work at the stock exchange’s parent company, and she sits on a Senate committee that regulates it, according to the Times. In a December debate with Warnock, she said trading stocks was the American dream.
Loeffler’s embraced Trump and her right-wing positions are at odds with the moderate she once seemed to be, as the AP reported last month. She also co-owns the WNBA team the Atlanta Dream, whose players have campaigned for Warnock after protesting against Loeffler last year over the senator’s staunch anti-Black Lives Matter stances.
Ossoff vs. Perdue
Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing Jon Ossoff in a regular election for a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate. Neither candidate won a majority of the November vote, with Perdue at 49.7% and Ossoff at 47.9%.