Georgia Senate run-offs are neck and neck and could take DAYS to call: Democrats’ early lead collapses with just a handful of votes separating parties
- Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are running against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively
- A record-shattering 3 million Georgians cast ballots early, whether by mail or in person, in the runoff races
- Early Democratic leads vanished once about two-thirds of the voters were tallied, meaning a final call on the races could take days
The Georgia Senate run-off races are turning into nail-biters.
The night started with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock holding large leads that substantially narrowed.
Since then, Sen. David Perdue, who is facing Ossoff, has pulled ahead, while Sen. Kelly Loeffler, pushed in front of Warnock.
Originally, a number of GOP-heavy areas hadn’t reported, as well as votes from Tuesday, which tend to skew Republican, as President Donald Trump has discouraged mail-in voting through this election season.
As the night wore on, Democrats had more than enough room to make up the ground, as several strongholds like Dekalb County and Chatham County – and early in-person votes – had yet to be tallied.
If both Democrats are successful, President-elect Joe Biden will have control of both houses of Congress when he gets sworn-in on January 20.
If Warnock wins he would be the state’s first black senator, while Ossoff would be the first Jewish senator.
Before polls had closed, Trump had already called fraud, floating a theory that Dominion voting machines were malfunctioning.
As the race looked winnable for the Democrats, Trump cried out fraud again, as networks were waiting for a large portion of votes from blue-leaning Dekalb to come in.
‘Looks like they are setting up a big “voter dump” against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?’ the president tweeted around 10:30 p.m.
‘Reports are coming out of the 12th Congressional District of Georgia that Dominion Machines are not working in certain Republican Strongholds for over an hour,’ Trump posted to his Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
‘Ballots are being left in lock boxes, hopefully they count them. Thank you Congressman @RickAllen!’ he continued, directing his gratitude to Georgia’s 12th district Representative Rick Allen.
As returns were coming in Tuesday night, Trump sent out a fundraising text to supporters trying to raise money off the allegations.
‘Pres Trump: Is it true that voting machines “stopped working” earlier in Georgia today? Are Dems trying to STEAL this Election? FIGHT BACK! Act,’ the text said, linking to page asking for donations.
The claim from Trump of voter fraud appears to have come from Perdue, who is running for reelection in the runoff, and John Fredericks, who appeared on former Trump White House strategist Steven Bannon’s podcast Tuesday.
As the Democratic Senate hopefuls looked poised to jump ahead, President Donald Trump again alleged fraud, suggesting that there would be a ‘voter dump’ against the GOP candidates, which is why Dekalb County was taking so long to report
President Donald Trump’s campaign sent out a fundraising tweet on behalf of the president around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night as returns were coming in, repeating his unfounded claims of voter fraud
Fulton County, Georgia election workers process absentee ballots Tuesday in the nail-biter race
Georgia Republicans await election results on Tuesday night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia
Georiga Gov. Brian Kemp addresses an audience of Republican supporters of Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue Tuesday night in Georgia. President Donald Trump turned on Kemp after losing Georgia in the November general election
‘We’ve got another problem with Dominion machines,’ Fredericks told Bannon on his podcast War Room. ‘I know this is going to shock your viewers today. But Dominion machines in several – get this, not one or two – I heard, three of the largest Republican precincts at 10:00 a.m. are down.’
‘People have been told that they cannot scan their ballots… because the machines don’t work,’ he continued. ‘In the meantime, they have to make their ballot out and put it in an envelope and the pole workers are saying ‘When it’s fixed we’ll scan it for you.’
‘So there’s all kinds of red flags right there,’ Fredericks said. ‘Of course, these are happening in Republican areas. You can extrapolate that, it could be happenstance.’
Also on Tuesday, Perdue told the Todd Starnes Show there were voting ‘anomalies’ involving Dominion machines in three different counties in Georgia.
The president’s tweet about the claims of irregularities and malfunctions comes as reports emerge of small lines at polling places and low in-person Election Day turnout – a bad sign for Republican incumbents Loeffler and Perdue.
Karl Rove, who served as George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff and now is financial chair of the Georgia Battleground Fund, said in a private conference call Monday that the two campaigns’ models show at least 1 million Georgians need to show up on Election Day for Republicans to win.
Lines in Georgia have been much shorter than expected all day Tuesday as voters turn out on Election Day to cast their ballots in the two Senate runoff elections
Incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler (left) waves at supporters going to vote in Sandy Springs, Georgia as her Democratic opponent Reverend Raphael Warnock (right) speaks at a canvassing kick off event in Marietta, Georgia on Election Day
Immediately after news of smaller-than-expected Election Day turnout emerged, Trump sent an inevitable claim via tweet that Dominion voting machines were malfunctioning – the same claim he uses to assert he actually won Georgia in the presidential contest in November
Republican Georgia Senator David Perdue – who is running for reelection – is still quarantining after being diagnosed with coroanvirus. His Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff (pictured) visited Dunbar Neighborhood Center on Election Day in Acworth, Georgia
Voters started lining up at the crack of dawn to cast their ballots in the two consequential runoff races. The lines, however, are quite short, with some claiming it took them a total of 5 minutes between showing up and leaving their polling places
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is urging Democrats to start turning out more on Tuesday, as well – despite a larger Election Day turnout usually favoring Republicans.
‘I know @ReverendWarnock and @Ossoff,’ the California senator said of the two Democratic candidates. ‘We’ve talked about the promise of our country. How we must help Americans with $2,000 stimulus checks, ensure our children have clean air to breathe, and our small businesses can thrive. That’s who they are—and who they’ll be as U.S. Senators.’
On the other hand, Donald Trump Jr. was pushing for more Republicans to turn out.
‘Get out and vote Georgia you have 2 1/2 hours to get in line to save America as you know it from the communists,’ the president’s eldest son and one of his closest campaign advisers said. ‘She’s worth fighting for!’
All eyes turned to the Peach State on Tuesday as thousands across Georgia headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the two consequential runoff races that will decide Senate control.
A record-shattering 3 million Georgians cast their votes early, whether in-person or by mail. That early voting figure alone is more than the previous record in overall turnout in a Georgia runoff.
Loeffler and Perdue are vying to keep their Senate seats against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.
Voters began lining up in the Peach State at the crack of dawn Tuesday and voting ends at 7:00 p.m. – setting up Washington for a day of speculation and nail biting as the two races will not only determine which party controls the Senate, but also the trajectory of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is urging Democrats in Georgia to start turning out more on Tuesday – despite a larger Election Day turnout usually favoring Republicans
Donald Trump Jr., the president eldest son and closest campaign adviser, is also pushing for Republicans to turn out with just a few hours left to cast their votes
So far, lines have not been as bad as expected – leading to speculation that Warnock and Ossoff could both emerge victorious.
‘I am hearing of virtually no lines across the state,’ Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said Tuesday.
Former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tweeted Tuesday that voters are getting in and out of polling places in minutes thanks to early voting.
‘MSNBC is reporting that voters at many Atlanta Metro polling places are in and out in 5 minutes today because so many Georgians voted early!’ Abrams posted. ‘So if you haven’t voted, get out and vote by 7PM today. I’m counting on you.’
This is nothing compared to the very long lines seen for in-person early voting in Georgia this year – or those lines experienced in the pre-pandemic era in the 2018 runoff.
Similar issues that delayed results of the presidential election in Georgia could unfold after Tuesday’s runoff contests if the race turnouts are as close as they are expected to be.
Mail-in ballots will continue filtering in throughout the day Tuesday and with that on top of calculating in-person voters, election officials might not know the results for a few more days.
Voters in Georgia started casting their ballots Tuesday morning in the two runoff elections in the state, which will determine which party controls the Senate
Georgians began arriving to vote before polling places even opened. Here a line forms at Cobb County Community Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Hundreds of thousands of Georgians are expected to vote on Tuesday before the polls close at 7:00 p.m. – after a record-shattering 3 million already voted in the runoff elections early by mail or in-person
Republicans expect to win both Senate races. But there are concerns the GOP senators will only win if at least 1 million more voters show up on Election Day to the 3 million who voted early
Masked-up and Socially Distanced: Georgia voters stood feet away from each other and donned face masks as they waited outside to be let into their respective polling places to vote
Trump pleaded with Georgians to vote for Loeffler and Perdue in a tweet Tuesday morning: ‘So important to do so!’ he urged
Volunteers at a voting center in Austell, Georgia hand out food and drinks to voters lined up waiting to cast their ballots
The southern state swung blue for Joe Biden by less than 12,000 votes on November 3, neither Senate race was decided because no candidate earned the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff
Georgia voters alone will decided the fate of the Senate in the two runoffs
A sign outside a voting center reminds candidates and their surrogates, as well as anyone else, that campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place is prohibited by law
Georgia runoff winners might not be know for days
Similar issues that delayed results of the presidential election in Georgia could unfold after Tuesday’s runoff contests if the races are close.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, said: ‘We may be looking at several days.’ He claimed the delay would mostly likely come from mail ballots received on Tuesday.
Election officials are not able to start counting ballots until 7 p.m. on Tuesday – after the polling places close.
While the more than 3 million ballots cast in early voting will be processed by then, hundreds of thousands of votes will be flooding in throughout the day Tuesday. The ballots already being processed will likely be counted quickly Tuesday when the polls close, but the others could take some time.
Election officials will need to open envelopes, check signatures and load ballots into counting machines for all votes received by mail on Election Day – and they will need to process the hundreds of thousands of votes cast in person that day, too.
Slow counting held up the results of the presidential election results in Georgia, with President Donald Trump holding a solid lead before mail-in ballots received on November 3 were fully processed and counted.
Joe Biden ended up pulling ahead by less than 12,000 votes once all were counted.
The tiny margin of victory led to two separate recounts in the Peach State, further delaying the final results.
The election Tuesday will decide control of the Senate as incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue face off against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.
If either Loeffler or Perdue hold onto their seat, Republican will maintain a majority in the upper chamber and more than likely block all legislative actions pushed by Biden.
But if both Warnock and Ossoff emerge victorious after Tuesday’s election, Democrats will have successfully split the Senate 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
‘Georgia, get out and VOTE for two great Senators, @KLoeffler and @sendavidperdue. So important to do so!’ President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
The runoffs were triggered after none of the four candidates were able to reach the 50 per cent threshold needed in Georgia to outright win their Senate race on November 3. The state does not hold primary elections, but rather has all candidates on the primary ballot with a requirement that they earn at least half the vote to win.
Trump and President-elect Joe Biden held dueling events in Georgia Monday to try and use their coattails to increase enthusiasm for their respective parties’ candidates.
The rallies, however, could be too little, too late.
Before Monday, more than 3 million Georgians already voted early in the Senate races – whether by mail or in person. This early voting figure far surpasses the previous record of 2.137 million votes cast overall in a runoff election before this year.
With around 5.5 million registered voters in Georgia, more than half of those who can vote have already done so before runoff election day on Tuesday.
Data from Georgia Secretary of State’s office indicates much more people showed up to vote early in person rather than absentee by mail – even in the midst of the pandemic.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the highest ranking Georgia election official, said: ‘We may be looking at several days’ before results are known.
He claimed the delay would most likely come from mail ballots received on Tuesday.
Election officials are not able to start counting ballots until 7 p.m. on Tuesday – after the polling places close.
Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots will continue flooding in throughout the day Tuesday, and that, combined with tabulating in-person voting could delay the counting process.
Slow counting held up the results of the presidential election results in Georgia, with Trump holding a solid lead before mail-in ballots received on November 3 were fully processed and counted in the days after.
Joe Biden won by less than 12,000 votes in the days after Election Day – and the minuscule margin of victory led to two separate recounts in the Peach State, further delaying the final results.
Historically, Democrats do better in mail-in and early voting and Republicans perform better on Election Day. But in a year plagued with coronavirus restrictions and accommodations, it’s hard to say if that rule will still apply here.
As it stands, Republicans expect to win both races – even though a Sunday poll shows Warnock and Ossoff ahead in their races by less than 2 per cent with Perdue standing a slightly better chance than colleague Loeffler.
The GOP is relying on earning at least 62 per cent of Election Day turnout, which is what Perdue got in November.
Trump, while pushing for Loeffler and Perdue’s reelections, also used his Monday night rally in Dalton County, Georgia to complain of his claimed widespread voter fraud and push his repeated – and largely unproven – allegations that the presidency was ‘stolen’ by Democrats.
President Donald Trump held a rally Monday night in Dalton County, Georgia for Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler (pictured) and David Perdue
Perdue joined the rally remotely to address the crowd at one point. He is still quarantining at his home after contracting coroanvirus
Earlier in the day, President-elect Joe Biden held an event campaigning for Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff (left) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (center)
Loeffler told Fox News on Monday night that she would join a dozen other Republican senators in a plot to challenge at least one state’s Electoral College results when Congress moves to certify the election for Joe Biden on Wednesday.
Trump announced on his Twitter Tuesday morning that Perdue was also joining the effort to challenge the results.
‘Pleased to announce that @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue have just joined our great #StopTheSteal group of Senators,’ the president posted. ‘They will fight the ridiculous Electoral College Certification of Biden. How do you certify numbers that have now proven to be wrong and, in many cases, fraudulent!’
Biden won 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232.
A group of House Republicans, led by Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, started pushing the plan last month and have gained a lot of traction since then after the group of senators joined the effort.
Loeffler attended the rally Monday night, but Perdue is still quarantining after contracting COVID-19. He joined the rally by video for a short time to address the crowd gathered on the tarmac for one of Trump’s last rallies of his presidency.
Trump lauded Loeffler and Perdue on Tuesday for joining a GOP effort in the Senate to challenge the Electoral College results in the joint session certifying the election for Joe Biden on January 6
During the rally, Trump demanded that Vice President Mike Pence ‘come through’ as he presides over Congress certifying the election on January 6 and Republicans carry out their plan to challenge the results.
‘I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. He’s a great guy,’ Trump told an audience Monday night. ‘Of course if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite as much.’
While the president’s biggest Capitol Hill allies challenge some of the states’ Electoral College counts, which could elongate the Congressional session for hours or even days, Pence will arrive just to announce the results.
Even though there is little to nothing Pence can do to change the outcome, Trump is suggesting he has the power to do so.
Thousands of the president’s most staunch supporters are descending on Washington D.C. on Wednesday to protest the election results, demanding Democrats ‘stop the steal’ and Trump be declared the true winner.
The GOP has been tearing itself apart from the inside out in the midst of the Georgia runoff as Republicans pick sides on standing with the president on his claims of widespread voter fraud or not.
Specifically, Georgia Republicans are publicly split on the matter.
In a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, Trump pressured him to find 11,780 votes for him in the Peach State to overturn Biden’s win there.
Audio of the call was leaked – by Raffensperger himself – on Sunday, and revealed a desperate Trump who, at times, begged, flattered and threatened the Georgia official, who is a Republican.
Trump has also attacked Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp for not doing enough to try and overturn the results after the state went blue in the presidential elections.
Loeffler and Perdue, however, have stayed on the president’s side – not wanting to upset him and his supporters before their runoff elections.
Senator Kelly Loeffler
Republican Kelly Loeffler was appointed to her seat over the objections of President Trump, and spent her tenure trying to put as little daylight as possible between her and the president.
The richest senator, Loeffler, 50, was never Trump’s favorite. The president preferred conservative loyalist Rep. Doug Collins for the vacancy that came up with the retirement of Sen. Johnny Isaakson in 2019.
She opposed Trump’s impeachment, and bragged about her ‘100 percent Trump voting record’ on the campaign trail.
But the former exec who co-owns the Atlanta Dream WNBA team made political stumbles throughout her tenure, which made her an endangered incumbent heading into November and then again in January even in a Republican-leaning state.
On Monday night, at a rally where Trump campaigned for her, she announced that she would back the challenge to the election that Trump is demanding when Congress meets Wednesday to count the Electoral College votes.
When she appeared with Trump Monday at the nighttime rally, she pointed awkwardly in the air and spoke for just seconds. Two weeks ago, at another rally with Ivanka Trump, crowd members chanted over her while she was trying to tout the case for her own reeelction.
‘Fight for Trump! … Stop the steal!’ audience members chanted.
After the killing of George Floyd, she clashed with the WNBA after teams promoted a Black Lives Matter message. Players responded on her own team responded by wearing matching ‘Vote Warnock’ t-shirts.
She was appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in December 2019 after then-Senator Johnny Isakson announced he was resigning for health reasons.
Kemp was a Trump ally, although the president has of late blasted him as a RINO for failing to support his effort to overturn the election results in his state.
Loeffler considers herself the most conservative Republican in the Senate and has aligned herself fully with Trump – touting her ‘100 per cent Trump voting record’ while campaigning.
Before ascending to Congress, Loeffler served as CEO of Bakkt, a digital asset conversion company, a subsidiary of her husband Jeffrey Sprecher’s financial service provider Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange. She also co-owns WNBA team the Atlanta Dream.
She faced a bitter primary against Collins, a Trump loyalist and defender in the House. She also had to stand for her first election on the ballot at a time when Georgia became a presidential battleground. Democrat Joe Biden would end up defeating Trump by 11,779 votes.
She also had to contend with accusations of insider trading even as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the nation. She and her husband traded millions worth of stocks between January and mid-February. This included stocks where the pandemic had an effect.
The Daily Beast reported on the trade, which took place after Loeffler attended a closed Jan. 24 Senate briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, in March.
Under growing pressure, she announced that she and her husband were liquidating stocks they held in individual companies.
The Justice Department closed an investigation into her stock trades, and the Senate Ethics Committee determined she did not break rules or laws. Senate rules allow members to trade stocks, but require their disclosure.
After she was forced into a runoff against Warnock, Loeffler’s path was complicated by Trump’s efforts to overturn the results certified in her state -including after a hand recount. She would call for the resignation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who pushed back on Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
But she dodged questions on whether she would back Trump’s election challenges when Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes.
It was only on Monday that she announced she would back Trump’s effort.
Loeffler and Sprecher, 65, were married in 2004 and have no children. Their net worth is $800 million, making Loeffler the richest member of Congress, by far. The two reside in Tuxedo Park – a neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia – in a $10.5 million estate.
Reverend Raphael Warnock
Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock, 51, is looking to take Senator Kelly Loeffler’s Senate seat in his first run for public office. The reverend rose to prominence in Georgia politics in 2014 when he emerged a leader in the effort to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Warnock chaired the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan organization focused on voter registration, from June 2017 to January 2020. He has also served as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia since 2005 – the same church where Marin Luther King Jr. preached alongside his father from 1959 until his death in 1968.
In 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction at the public prayer service for Barack Obama’s second inauguration. As Warnock geared up for his 2020 Senate run, he hosted in March 2019 an interfaith meeting on climate change at his church, featuring Al Gore.
The reverend grew up in public housing in Savannah, Georgia as the eleventh of twelve children of two Pentecostal pastors.
From 2016 to 2020, Warnock was married to Oulèye Ndoye, with whom he shares two children. His now-ex-wife accused Warnock of running over her foot with a car while trying to get out of an argument. Body camera footage of Warnock’s interview with police during the incident was made public before the runoff election.
Senator David Perdue
David Perdue, 71, first became a U.S. senator for Georgia in 2015, replacing retiring Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. This year is his first reelection campaign, and he didn’t earn the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff. Perdue is a cousin of President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Before seeking public office, Perdue served as senior vice president for Reebok and later joined PillowTex, a North Carolina textile company. Following that, he was CEO of Dollar General. In the list of most rich members of Congress, Perdue falls at No. 21 with a net worth of 15.8 million.
Perdue, like his Georgia colleague Kelly Loeffler, was linked to a congressional insider trading scandal in 2020 for selling stocks before the market crashed in a fallout from the coroanvirus pandemic. They both allegedly used knowledge from a closed Senate meeting to make stock decision.
Perdue resides in Sea Island, Georgia with his wife Bonnie Dunn, who he married in 1972. The couple has two sons and three grandchildren. They had a daughter who died in infancy.
Thomas Jonathan Ossoff, who goes by Jon, is, by far, the youngest candidate in Georgia’s runoff elections at just 33. To become a U.S senator, candidates must be 30 on the day of swearing in.
In 2017, Ossoff launch a bid to become a representative in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The district was long considered a Republican stronghold, but Ossoff came in first – without earning the 50 per cent to win. He ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel in a runoff.
He interned for Representative John Lewis before spending five years as a national security staffer to Representative Hank Johnson – leaving in 2012 to earn a master’s degree at the London School of Economics.
Since 2013, Ossoff has served as managing director and CEO of Insight TWI, a London-based investigative television production company creating documentaries on corruption in foreign countries.
Ossoff, who was raised Jewish, is married to Alisha Kramer, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Emory University.
The Democratic candidates prides himself on being a child of an immigrant – his mother, Heather Fenton, is Australian – and his multimillionaire father Richard Ossoff owns a specialist publishing company.
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