One of Georgia’s two senatorial elections appears to be heading for a run-off. Democratic Senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock secured a high enough percentage of the vote to advance to the second round against Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who secured her spot in the second round after her opponent Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)), conceded Tuesday night.
Several media outlets reported that Warnock and Loeffler were not on track to secure 50 percent of the overall vote. But the two beat Collins, who had given Loeffler a competitive Republican challenge this year. Under the rules of the “jungle” style special election, since no candidate has obtained an absolute majority of the votes, the two best-takers will advance to the second round of the elections on January 5.
Loeffler, the richest Senate member, will be the frontrunner as the second round approaches, especially as Georgia’s Republicans, previously divided between Loeffler and Collins, are rallying around a candidate from their party. Loeffler also enjoys the support of the National GOP and the formidable political apparatus aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and has personally poured $ 23 million into his own campaign.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the Senate seat in December following the retirement of former Republican Senator Johnny Isakson. His campaign has been marred by controversy throughout the year, especially after The Daily Beast reported that Loeffler and her husband, New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, had sold millions of dollars in stock as a result. of a closed-door Senate briefing on the coronavirus in January.
The story drew allegations of insider trading from Congress which Loeffler and Sprecher both vehemently denied. Investigations by FBI and Senate ethics officials have not resulted in any allegations of wrongdoing. The issue nonetheless persecuted Loeffler throughout the campaign, as she brushed aside accusations of profit from the pandemic and the resulting economic devastation.
Warnock has emerged from relative political obscurity to mount a formidable Senate campaign in a state traditionally dominated by Republicans. As Democrats increasingly viewed Georgia as a possible, albeit difficult, pickup opportunity in the Senate, Warnock began to raise substantial funds – enough to rival even Loeffler’s massive self-funded war chest.
As his candidacy gained momentum, Warnock also gained the backing of Georgia’s main Democrats, including former President Jimmy Carter, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and the late Representative John Lewis.
Warnock’s rise in the polls was sudden and dramatic. A Monmouth University poll conducted last week showed Warnock garnering 41 percent of the vote, beating Loeffler by 20 points and Collins by 23. The same poll three months earlier had Warnock shooting just nine percent and trailing both. double-digit Republicans.
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