A Historic Victory in Georgia Runoff Elections

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Photos courtesy of Getty Images and the New York Times.

We may not yet know the final results of the Georgia runoff election, but last Tuesday is already a milestone in history.

By the time this note was written, the Democrats appear to be on the verge of taking control of the Senate, following Raphael Warnock’s victory over Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, and young Democrat Jon Ossoff leading Republican Senator David Perdue in the two-state Senate runoff elections.

Around 2 a.m. EST Wednesday, the Associated Press projected Warnock as the winner, after the Atlanta pastor widened his lead to more than 46,500 votes.

According to USA Today, Warnock made history with his election victory, becoming the first black Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from a southern state and the 11th black senator in the nation’s history. He becomes the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race in Georgia in 20 years.

“To everyone out there struggling today, whether you voted for me or not, know this,” Warnock said as he declared victory in a video from his home. “I will fight for your family.”

During the night, Ossoff beat Perdue by more than 8,500 votes after the DeKalb County Democrats’ votes were released. Most of the uncounted ballots remain in Democratic strongholds in the Atlanta metro area. 

“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,” Ossoff campaign manager Ellen Foster said in a statement. “The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant.”

But control of the Senate has not been the only victory in the race.

In Tuesday’s runoff, The Washington Post said 4.4 million votes were cast. That’s less than the 68% turnout rate in November but much more than the 54% turnout in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election, where the now heavyweight activist, Stacey Abrams, who many consider the force behind the shift, emerged.

A former minority leader in the Georgia State House of Representatives, Abrams has spent the last decade building a Democratic political infrastructure where the Republican grip wouldn’t allow, first with her New Georgia Project, and now with Fair Fight, the voting rights organization she founded after losing her campaign for 2018 governor because of the strangling suppression of votes suffered by communities of color in the state.

According to The New York Times, Abrams reiterated her acknowledgment to the thousands of “organizers, volunteers, canvassers and tireless groups” who helped him unveil the political reality and consciousness in his state.

In all respects, and although the credit for the winners in the Senate race belongs to a collective effort and its own candidates, it was Abrams herself who demonstrated to the political establishment that, in the same spirit of a Bernie Sanders or an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, grassroots American politics is here to stay.