by Jason Schaumburg
Ongoing vote tallies in Georgia suggest the fate of the U.S. Senate race between Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff, and, perhaps, control of the U.S. Senate, will be decided by a runoff election in January.
As of Friday morning, incumbent Republican Perdue leads Ossoff, a Democrat, by 98,410 votes, with a 49.84% to 47.84% advantage – below the more than 50% of the vote Perdue needs to avoid a runoff against Ossoff on Jan. 5.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger tweeted Friday morning that 8,197 ballots still needed to be counted. Georgia election officials said an additional 8,899 military ballots still could be returned and accepted by Friday. The state has no way of knowing how many of those outstanding military ballots could be returned.
A special election on Tuesday’s ballot to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Johnny Isakson, who retired, already has produced a runoff between Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat in December, and Democrat Raphael Warnock, who is the senior pastor of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
The two runoffs could carry national significance by determining which party has control of the U.S. Senate.
As of Friday morning and based on races called by The Associated Press, Democrats and Republicans each held 48 seats in the Senate, with two U.S. Senate races outside of Georgia still undecided: North Carolina and Alaska.
In North Carolina, Republican incumbent Thom Tillis holds a 48.7% to 46.9% advantage over Democrat Cal Cunningham with an estimated 94% of the vote counted. The vote count in North Carolina will not conclude until next week.
Republican incumbent Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan holds a 62.9% to 31.8% advantage over Democratic challenger Al Gross with an estimated 47% of the vote counted. Absentee ballots and early voting ballots cast after Oct. 29 will not be counted in Alaska until next week.
If Republicans hang on to their leads for both of those seats, they would need to win one of the Georgia runoffs to hold a 51-49 advantage in the U.S. Senate. Tie votes in the Senate are broken by the vice president.
Loeffler and Warnock emerged from a crowded field in the special election to fill the seat created by former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired. The runoff winner will serve the two years remaining in Isakson’s term.
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the seat in December.
Warnock had 32.86% of the vote, and Loeffler, who was in battle with Congressman Doug Collins for Republican votes, finished with 25.98%. Collins garnered 20% of the vote.
“Georgia, I’ve been fighting for YOU since the day I stepped into the Senate,” Loeffler said via Twitter. “It means the world to me to have your support – but our work isn’t done yet! Let’s bring it home on January 5th.”
Warnock said he is energized by a growing movement for change across Georgia.
“Something special and transformational is happening right here in Georgia,” Warnock said. “The people. Everyday people. Ordinary people are rising up, and they are demanding change.”
– – –
Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press. Schaumburg is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Jon Ossoff” by Jon Ossoff.