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Warnock defeats Loeffler in Georgia Senate runoff

Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockLimbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Ossoff sworn in on Hebrew Bible from synagogue bombed by white supremacists in the 1950s Dershowitz: Senate should dismiss impeachment article since Trump is private citizen MORE on Wednesday morning was projected to have defeated Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerLimbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Suburbs pose challenge for GOP in post-Trump era Democrats swear in three senators to gain majority MORE (R) in their Senate runoff in Georgia, bringing the Democrats within reach of the majority in the upper chamber.

NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN called the race for Warnock shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday. The Associated Press called it at 2 a.m. Fox News followed suit shortly before 2:30 a.m.

Warnock, who is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, will be the first African American to represent Georgia in the Senate. 

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The pastor declared victory in a video address after midnight on Wednesday. 

“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 said. “So Georgia, I am honored by the faith that you have shown in me and I promise you this tonight: I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election." 

Warnock will be up for reelection in 2022 because the race was a special election to finish the remainder of retired Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler concedes to Warnock Hawley to still object to Pennsylvania after Capitol breached Hillary Clinton trolls McConnell: 'Senate Minority Leader' MORE's (R) term.

Loeffler showed no signs of conceding the race just after midnight Wednesday, calling for every vote to be counted. 

"It’s worth it for this election to last into tomorrow. We’re going to make sure that every vote is counted," she said prior to the race being called. "We have a path to victory and we're staying on it."

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Neither Loeffler nor Warnock reached the 50 percent threshold needed to win the general election in November, sending the race into a runoff. Warnock, who benefited from then-Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDrudge congratulates Warnock, says Ann Coulter should have been GOP candidate Warnock defeats Loeffler in Georgia Senate runoff Warnock says he needs to win 'by comfortable margin' because 'funny things go on' MORE (R-Ga.) running in the nonpartisan blanket primary alongside Loeffler, garnered roughly 33 percent of the vote at that time. Loeffler brought in around 26 percent.

However, with the Republican side consolidated, polls showed a tight race leading up to Tuesday. The RealClearPolitics polling average showed Warnock leading by just 1.8 percentage points on the Monday before the runoff.

Warnock criticized Loeffler over her initial lack of support for the $2,000 stimulus checks for Congress's coronavirus relief package in the final weeks of the campaign.

"Billionaire @KLoeffler thinks $600 will cover your rent, groceries, and hospital bills," Warnock tweeted last month.

Loeffler eventually came out in support of the checks after President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE hit Congress for going with $600 stimulus checks instead of $2,000. But Warnock still went after Loeffler for not pushing hard enough for a vote on the checks.

"Instead of flying back to Washington, D.C., and insisting that they put up the stimulus [bill] for a vote, Kelly Loeffler was so busy trying to keep her job that she's not doing her job," Warnock said at a rally on Riverdale, Ga., on Monday.