Rev. Raphael Warnock made history on Wednesday morning (Jan. 6) as multiple outlets projected his victory as Georgia’s first Black senator. The senator-elect and senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church ran against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday’s Senate runoff election (Jan. 5).
“I am an iteration and an example of the American dream,” Warnock said Wednesday morning on CNN’s “New Day.” “When I think about the arc of our history, what Georgia did last night is its own message in the midst of a moment in which so many people are trying to divide our country — at a time we can least afford to be divided.”
Warnock is also the 11th Black senator in United States’ history. During a live-streamed address, the Georgia native reflected on his mother, Verlene Warnock, who picked cotton and tobacco in the 1950’s before becoming a Pentecostal pastor.
“The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said. “The improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here.”
CNN and other outlets projected Warnock as the winner of Georgia’s Senate runoffs after a close race. By 9:40 a.m. EST Wednesday morning, 98 percent of the votes had been reported, with a margin between Warnock and Loeffler of less than 53,000.
Warnock is also the first Georgia Democrat to be elected to the Senate in 20 years. In November, Joe Biden also became the first Democratic presidential candidate to claim victory in the state since the 1990’s. On Twitter, many credited the state’s party shift and record-breaking voter turnout to the years-long efforts of Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Georgia activists.
Democrat Jon Ossoff also had a slim lead over Republican Sen. David Perdue on Wednesday morning, with a margin of around 15,000; as of 9:40 a.m. EST. Ossoff declared his victory, though CNN and other outlets have not yet projected a winner in the race.
In the hours before multiple outlets called the race in Warnock’s favor, Loeffler addressed her supporters at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta.
“Every legal vote will be counted and I’m not going to stop working,” she said. “So, I’m asking for every single Georgian; every single American — stay in the fight with us. We are going to keep fighting for you.”
At the time of publishing, Loeffler has yet to concede to Warnock.