By Erick Johnson
In a historic election, Black voters once again flooded Georgia precincts to give Democrats full control of Congress after electing Raphael Warnock the first Black Senator in Georgia’s history. It was a fitting end to a campaign season that ushered in a new era of Black political power in America. Black voters also elected fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff in a second Senate runoff race.
The Senate will now have 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote as the Democratic VP and future president of the Senate.
The political season ended the way it began.
In February Congressman James Clyburn led Black voters to save President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign in South Carolina.
The political season ended just days ago on January 5, when years of community organizing and voter registrations by voting rights activist Stacey Abrams grew the Black vote into a powerful force. This created a new generation of voters that elected two underdog Democratic Senate candidates over their Republican opponents, shifting the political power in Congress.
The fruits of Abrams’ efforts in a Republican state came full circle this election season in a stunning rebuke to the white political establishment that denied her the governor’s seat in 2018.
With Raphael Warnock’s and Jon Ossoff’s historic victories, Democrats now have full control of both Houses of Congress, and the presidency, ending four tumultuous years of President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Senate which has supported him.
In Atlanta, the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and the home of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hundreds of thousands of Blacks, young and old, were among a record 4.4 million people who voted in two intense, closely-watched run-offs that have gripped the nation as the control of the U.S. Senate hung in the balance.
After weeks of heavy campaigning and advertising blitzes, Black voters supported Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s iconic Ebenezer Baptist Church, in ousting Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, winning 50.6 of the vote to her 49.4 percent.
With 98 percent of the vote counted, Warnock led with 55,578 votes by Wednesday afternoon for a total of 2,232,804 votes.
Warnock declared victory after MSNBC and other networks called the race early Wednesday morning. Loeffler, his opponent, has not conceded and remained silent Wednesday as supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building and forced the House and Senate to stop proceedings and exit the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol for safety.
In Georgia, the Secretary of State’s office was evacuated out of precaution as the chaos unfolded in D.C.
In the second Senate runoff race, Ossoff defeated Republican incumbent David Perdue by 27,075 votes in a race that was called at 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Ossoff declared victory in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but television networks refrained from calling the race early in the day because the race was too tight.
At midnight following the Tuesday election, Loeffler vowed to travel to Washington to join Republican Senators to reject the certification of the Electoral College results that gave Biden the presidency.
Many of the uncounted in-person ballots in Georgia’s runoff races were from heavily Democratic counties in Atlanta’s metro region, including DeKalb County which sealed President-elect Joe Biden’s stunning victory and flipped Georgia to Blue days after the general election November 3.
Georgia election officials were still waiting for absentee ballots from military service members.
Warnock’s victory as Georgia’s first Black Senator came after a political campaign season that was fraught with allegations that state officials purged 198,000 voters from rolls, most of them Democrats.
Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry on Election Day in a tweet, said that he never received a Georgia absentee ballot despite requesting it December 4. He later tweeted a video showing an “I voted” sticker after flying to Atlanta in his private plane to vote in person.
Warnock and Ossoff ran grassroots campaigns that relied heavily on phone calls and canvassing in Georgia’s Black and minority neighborhoods. Ossoff reportedly recruited 2,000 young Blacks to boost voter turnout in Atlanta and surrounding cities.
Warnock’s and Ossoff’s votes came from urban cities like Atlanta, and Georgia’s suburbs. Loeffler and Perdue received votes from residents in rural areas.
In the final days leading to the end of the campaign, Biden and the nation’s first female Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, held rallies in Georgia. Two days before the election, Trump in a recorded phone call, pressured Georgia’s Secretary of State to overturn the elections by finding the outgoing president more than 11,000 votes.
Throughout the campaign, Warnock and Ossoff attended rallies together. They were painted as radical socialists by their opponents. Both raised over $100 million each and campaign spending reportedly grew to a record $500 million.