As of Wednesday afternoon, Democratic challenger Rev. Raphael Warnock has clinched one U.S. Senate runoff race in Georgia, while his counterpart, Jon Ossoff, holds the lead over Republican incumbent David Perdue in the other race, moving the Democrats closer to majority control of Congress. If Democrats win control of the Senate, progressives say President-elect Joe Biden must adopt bold progressive policies to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, and the growing threat of climate change.
Rev. Raphael Warnock beat Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler to become the first Black senator in Georgia’s history and the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South.
“We were told that we couldn’t win this election, but tonight, we proved that with hope, hard work, and the people by our side, anything is possible,” Warnock told supporters in a livestream.
This was the moment from Raphael Warnock’s speech just now. pic.twitter.com/ODS6X73589
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 6, 2021
Jon Ossoff, a 33-year-old documentary filmmaker who would become the Senate’s youngest member if elected, also declared victory with a narrow lead over incumbent David Perdue, although the race remains too close to call.
If upheld, the results would be a final defeat for outgoing President Donald Trump, who stands to be the first U.S. president since 1932 to lose the White House and both chambers of Congress in a single term.
Over four million votes were cast in the Georgia runoffs, fueled in part by Black and Latino communities voting in record numbers despite rampant voter suppression by state officials, including the alleged purging of nearly 200,000 eligible voters. Voting rights groups, unions, and grassroots organizers reached hundreds of thousands of potential voters through in-person and virtual canvassing.
So many hands built this victory, but I must single out the indefatigable, ingenious team at @fairfightaction, led by the powerhouse that is @gwlauren. From mobilizing voters to defending the franchise to moving the needle on what’s possible – this team is mighty! Thank you all.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) January 6, 2021
“We helped save the country from four more years of Donald Trump, and now we’re within striking distance of ending Mitch McConnell’s rule in the Senate,” said Working Families Party Senior Political Strategist Britney Whaley. “The last straw for many voters was McConnell’s outrageous obstruction of $2,000 in COVID-19 relief that working families desperately need. Wealthy Republican senators put their own interests ahead of people facing poverty, joblessness, and homelessness, and they have received a powerful rebuke.”
Winning both contests would give Democrats control of the Senate, creating a 50-50 split and giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote once she and Joe Biden take office on Jan. 20. The party already has a narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Democratic control of the Senate would prevent the GOP from blocking Biden appointees, and from blocking Democratic legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 400,000 in the U.S. and left tens of millions unemployed.
It’s a new day!
Who’s ready to PUSH?
Ready to PUSH for retroactive COVID relief?
And to PUSH for student loan cancellation?
For climate justice?
Ending the death penalty?
What policies do you most want to PUSH for?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 6, 2021
In May, Harris joined Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey to introduce a bill that would provide $2,000 monthly stimulus checks during the pandemic, which is supported by 65% of voters, according to a Jan. 4 national poll by Data for Progress. In December, Harris voted to end Sanders’ effort to block the $740 billion defense spending bill unless there was a decision on $2,000 checks. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, which included a $600 stimulus, was passed instead, and signed by Trump on Dec. 27.
On Monday, 50 activists rallied at Biden’s Philadelphia headquarters, demanding he follow through on a campaign promise to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt. In December, Biden signaled he would not use executive action to abolish student debt, saying he wanted Congress to act.
If Democrats do win both Georgia Senate seats, the losses would “fall squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions since Nov. 3,” Georgia Republican election official Gabriel Sterling told CNN.
The campaign’s final days were overshadowed by Trump’s attacks on Georgia’s election results, including a recording of a phone call published this week by the Washington Post in which he demanded Georgia Republican officials “find” enough votes to make him the winner, likely violating the law.
Trump held rallies for both Republican candidates, but maintained false accusations that his own loss in Georgia in the November presidential election was the result of fraud.
Those accusations were debunked point by point by Sterling in a Monday press conference.
“This is all easily, provably false,” Sterling said.
During the campaign, Republicans had painted Ossoff and Warnock as “radicals” who would pursue a hard-left agenda.
In a video message, Warnock—a pastor from Ebenezer Baptist Church, legendary in Georgia because of its role in the civil rights movement under Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—recalled his humble upbringing as one of 12 children of a woman who worked in cotton fields.
“Because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said.
Declaring victory on Wednesday morning, Ossoff said he looked forward “to serving you in the United States Senate with integrity, with humility, with honor.”
Both Republican senators—following the lead of Trump, who has never conceded his own electoral loss—predicted they would ultimately win, and insisted they would fight on: “We have a path to victory and we’re staying on it,” Loeffler told supporters in Atlanta.
Violent far-right groups like the Proud Boys began two days of protests in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in what they are calling the “Stop the Steal” rally, and police made at least a dozen arrests.
MAGA and Proud Boys are fighting cops in DC tonight. pic.twitter.com/5I09Z6Nitg
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) January 6, 2021
On Wednesday afternoon, after Trump told supporters gathered near the White House he “will never concede,” hundreds of people from the crowd breached barricades outside the Capitol, forcing the House and Senate into recess as the protestors gathered outside the chamber.
Protesters have breached the Capitol. They’re outside the Senate chamber pic.twitter.com/I021tKliUD
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
BREAKING: Trump supporters have breached the Capitol building, tearing down 4 layers of security fencing and are attempting to occupy the building — fighting federal police who are overrun
This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Thousands, police can’t stop them pic.twitter.com/VVdTUwV5YN
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) January 6, 2021
Earlier in the week, police arrested the leader of the Proud Boys after he admitted to burning a Black Lives Matter flag removed from the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church during a pro-Trump rally in December where four people were stabbed and 33 were arrested.
Trump has asked Vice President Mike Pence to overturn his electoral defeat in Congress on Wednesday, when Pence presides over the counting of electoral votes to certify Biden’s victory.
Mike Pence reportedly told the President he lacks the authority to overturn the election. Some Republican lawmakers have said they will try to reject some state tallies, which could drag out the certification process.
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