ATLANTA, Georgia — Preempting the announcement of final vote tallies, Democrat Jon Ossoff on Wednesday claimed victory in the second of two Georgia run-off votes, claiming a win that would give US President-elect Joe Biden control of the United States Senate.
“Georgia, thank so much for the confidence you have placed in me. I am honored by your support, by your confidence, by your trust and I will look forward to serving you,” Ossoff said in a televised statement.
He thanked Georgians for “electing me to serve you.”
Ossoff, who is Jewish, said the campaign has been about health, jobs and justice for Georgians, and that his victory would ensure those issues are made a priority in the Senate.
The US media has not yet called the race, and Ossoff’s Republican opponent David Perdue has not conceded, but with most remaining votes coming from strong Democratic areas, Ossiff is viewed as the clear favorite to win.
In the other Georgia race, Raphael Warnock was projected to defeat Republican Kelly Loeffler, a 50-year-old businesswoman appointed to the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, in December 2019.
Warnock, 51, acknowledged his improbable victory in a message to supporters early Wednesday, citing his family’s experience with poverty. His mother, he said, used to pick “somebody else’s cotton” as a teenager.
“The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said. “Tonight, we proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.”
Loeffler refused to concede in a brief message to supporters shortly after midnight.
“We’ve got some work to do here. This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election,” insisted Loeffler, a 50-year-old former businesswoman who was appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the state’s governor.
Victory by both Democrats would be a major political upset in a state that has been reliably Republican for two decades, but that Biden won on November 3 on his way to victory against Trump in the presidential race.
It would also send reverberations through Washington, as it would hand Biden’s Democrats the levers of power in the executive branch and both chambers of Congress.
Later Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence is to preside over a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote that confirmed Biden as the winner of the White House.
Trump — who claims the election was fraudulent — is planning to address a rally near the White House in protest at the certification, with his supporters gathering downtown amid a heavy police presence.
Dozens of House Republicans and 12 Senate Republicans have said they will raise objections to certification. The move lacks sufficient support and is set to fail.