Georgia will have two Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5; outcome could determine control of chamber

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Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate races will head to runoff elections in early January, after no candidate in either contest surpassed 50% of the votes cast.

After days of counting votes, the race between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff was determined Friday to be headed to a runoff after neither candidate secured a simple majority.

The other race will feature Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, defending her seat against Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock in a special election. The contest was determined to head to a runoff several days ago.

The runoffs will be held Jan. 5.

With 99% of the vote counted in Mr. Perdue’s race, the incumbent Republican had 49.8% of the vote compared to Mr. Ossoff’s 47.9%, according to the Associated Press. A Libertarian candidate, Shane Hazel, clocked in with 2.3% of the vote, almost certainly a factor in pushing the race to a runoff.

Huge sums have been spent on both of Georgia’s races already, and tens of millions more are expected to pour in, as the runoffs could determine control of the Senate.

Republicans have 49 seats and Democrats 48 after the elections, with several races too close to call.

Mr. Ossoff had entered the race with a 1-point lead according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, had trailed badly on Election Night, but the margin steadily closed as votes in a handful of Georgia counties were counted.

The Republican incumbents’ campaigns said the Democrats were bankrolled by coastal liberals, and the Democrats had countered by accusing the GOP senators as having enriched themselves on insider stock deals before the coronavirus pandemic led to shutdowns that wrecked the economy.

Mr. Perdue is seeking a second term. Mr. Ossoff first surfaced in Georgia politics in 2017 when he lost a special House election that, at the time, was the most expensive such race in U.S. history.

Mr. Warnock is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the home pulpit of the late Rev. Martin Luther King.

Ms. Loeffler was appointed to her seat last January by Mr. Kemp and faced a number of opponents in a special-election contest that included a strong challenge not just from Mr. Warnock, but also from conservative Republican Rep. Doug Collins.

Mr. Collins conceded his third-place finish on Election Day and has thrown his support to Ms. Loeffler, who trailed Mr. Warnock by about 7 percentage points with 98% of that vote counted.

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