After four painful years under Donald Trump, Democrats woke up euphoric on Wednesday to find themselves on the brink of taking control of the US Senate.
Democrats appear on the verge of two stunning victories over incumbent Republican senators in Georgia’s runoff elections. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King once preached, won his race over Kelly Loeffler. In race two, Jon Ossoff narrowly outscored David Perdue, his Republican opponent, by about 17,000 votes Wednesday morning and declared victory.
It is a moment charged with historical significance. Warnock, 51, who was born when Georgia was represented by two segregationist senators, becomes the first black Democratic senator elected from the south and Georgia’s first black senator.
“The 82-year-old hands that used to pick someone else’s cotton went to the polls and elected their youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said.
The significance of his victory extended beyond the race for the Democrats. On the same day, the United States Congress was ready to formally recognize Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race, the last formal hurdle before his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States on January 20. Although several Republicans were willing to oppose the vote, Democrats already had the numbers to override those objections.
There is likely to be an examination of conscience as to whether Trump’s refusal to admit defeat in the November presidential race and his continued attempts to overturn the election results hurt the party’s position among moderate Republicans.
If Ossoff holds up in his career, as expected, he divides the US Senate 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. But Democrats will control the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris will cast the tiebreaker vote.
Democratic control of the Senate would give the party full control of the United States Congress and greatly expands what Biden can accomplish in the next four years of his presidency. Democrats will have the power to pass policies to dramatically expand voting rights and protect the environment, among other measures. It’s unclear how ambitious they will be, given their slim majority.
Biden congratulated Ossoff and Warnock in a statement Wednesday morning, but also promised to work with both parties.
“Georgia voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: They want action on the crises we face and they want it now. About Covid-19, about economic relief, about the climate, about racial justice, about the right to vote and much more, ”he said. “They want us to move, but to go together.”
The Georgia results solidify the staggering transformation that has seen the state reconfigure itself from a Republican stronghold of the South to a diverse and increasingly progressive state, just two months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win there in nearly three decades. That transformation occurs when minority voters have increasingly become the electorate.
The organizers, led by Democrat Stacey Abrams, have spent nearly a decade registering and mobilizing those voters, turning the changing electorate into a political force.
“Once again, the nation is realizing what we have known all along: Georgia is a battle state thanks to tireless work to invest and attract voters of color,” said Nsé Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project. , which Abrams started in 2014 and that works to register and mobilize new voters. “We are undoing a history of voter suppression and injustice in black and brown communities.”
At the polls on Tuesday, voters were also happy to learn that their voices could transform the country.
“Everyone is really excited. Especially since Georgia is not really a state where I think people feel that if they vote blue they will be heard, until now. ” said Caroline Mangum, 23, who voted Tuesday in Smyrna, a city outside of Atlanta.
Underscoring the importance of the two rounds of the Georgia Senate, more than 4 million Georgians voted in the two elections, surpassing the number of votes cast in the state during the 2016 presidential race.
Significantly, voter turnout in rural white counties where Republicans needed a solid performance appears to have struggled without Donald Trump on the ballot, while black voters appear to have been energized by the momentum of Trump’s defeat in November when Biden he became the first Democrat to run the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Eva Bellamy said it had been several years since she voted, but that she felt compelled to go to the polls after hearing others around her talk about the elections.
“My coworkers ask me, ‘Did you vote?’ I am not a good liar. I was like, ‘You know what, they’re right. That’s God speaking to me, ”he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism