Ossoff defeats Perdue in Georgia Senate runoff

Jon OssoffJon OssoffMissouri Senate candidate says Congress members should go to jail if guilty of insider trading Perdue proposes election police force in Georgia Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation MORE notched a critical victory in Georgia on Wednesday, with a projected defeat of Republican David PerdueDavid PerduePerdue proposes election police force in Georgia Kemp campaign alleges Perdue team illegally coordinating with new fundraising committee Abrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden MORE in a Senate runoff election that will give Democrats control of the upper chamber.

The Associated Press called the race for Ossoff shortly after 4 p.m. EST. Ossoff currently leads Perdue by less than 0.6 percentage points, a slim margin but just over the 0.5-percentage-point threshold that would trigger an automatic recount of the vote.

The runoff was one of two in the Peach State that determines which party will control the Senate – and how effectively President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' MORE will be able to advance his legislative agenda – beginning Jan. 20.


Early Wednesday morning, Democrat Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockDemocrats torn over pushing stolen-election narrative These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Perdue proposes election police force in Georgia MORE was declared the winner in a separate Senate runoff election in Georgia, unseating Republican Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Eleven interesting races to watch in 2022 Democrats' selective hearing on law and order issues puts everyone at risk MORE.

The dual Democratic victories in Georgia ensure that the party will control the Senate in 2021 and beyond.


Heading into Tuesday, Republicans held a 50-to-48 seat advantage in the Senate. If Democrats pick up both Georgia Senate seats, they will effectively gain a majority in the upper chamber, with Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' Tlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE casting the tie-breaking vote.

Ossoff, the 33-year-old chief executive of a London-based documentary film company, first rose to national political prominence during his 2017 campaign for a suburban-Atlanta House seat in a special election. 


He ultimately lost that race to Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelDraft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Ossoff defeats Perdue in Georgia Senate runoff McBath wins rematch against Handel in Georgia House race MORE (R-Ga.). But the election, which became the most expensive House race in U.S. history, helped springboard Ossoff into his Senate bid against Perdue, a former corporate executive who is among the wealthiest members of the upper chamber.

The race between Ossoff and Perdue, whose first term in the Senate expired Sunday, advanced to a runoff after neither candidate surpassed the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright in November. Perdue finished slightly ahead in that election, notching just shy of 50 percent to Ossoff’s 47.9 percent.

But the runoff campaign between the two men became consumed over the past two months by congressional negotiations over a coronavirus pandemic relief package and President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE’s repeated attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Perdue hitched his political fortunes close to those of Trump, while simultaneously seeking to cast Ossoff as a socialist with pro-China leanings. Ossoff, meanwhile, seized on Perdue’s unwillingness to break with the president, as well as allegations that the Georgia senator made a series of well-timed stock trades amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite their repeated attacks on one another, Ossoff and Perdue never met face-to-face on the debate stage during their runoff campaigns. Perdue declined to participate in any debates, largely sticking to a strategy of treating Ossoff as if he was a non-threat.


Ossoff, however, proved an effective fundraiser. He pulled in some $100 million for his runoff campaign, dwarfing what would be an otherwise massive haul of $68 million for Perdue. 

Ossoff’s victory on Wednesday was driven by a wave of Democratic turnout, particularly in Atlanta and its suburbs. Republicans, meanwhile, had bet that strong Election Day turnout in rural areas on Jan. 5 would put them over the finish line.

While turnout on both sides set records for a runoff election in Georgia, Republicans fell short of their goals in the rural parts of the state where they remain dominant. Democrats, however, benefited from strong turnout among Black voters and young voters, who helped hand them their two victories.

Perdue’s loss adds to Republicans’ troubles in a state that has been a Republican stronghold for years, coming on the heels of Biden’s victory over Trump there in November. Ossoff’s win, meanwhile, is the latest sign of Georgia’s transformation into a political battleground that neither party can comfortably claim as their own.

The two Democratic victories on Wednesday, however, were overshadowed by chaos in Washington, where a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory. The mayhem forced lawmakers, congressional staffers, reporters and others to evacuate or take shelter.

The Washington and Virginia National Guards have been activated to help quell the riots.