Democrat Raphael Warnock makes history with Senate win in Georgia

Georgia Democratic Senate Candidate Raphael Warnock Campaigns On Election Day

Democrat Raphael Warnock has won one of Georgia's two US Senate runoffs, becoming the first black senator in his state's history and putting the Senate majority within the Democrats' reach.

Mr Warnock, a pastor who spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr preached, defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

It was a stinging rebuke of outgoing President Donald Trump, who made one of his final trips in office to Georgia to rally his loyal base behind Ms Loeffler and the Republican running for the other seat, David Perdue.

Latest results from the US House and Senate elections, as of 8am January 6
(PA Graphics)

The focus now shifts to the second race between Mr Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

That contest was too early to call as votes were still being counted.

If Mr Ossoff wins, Democrats will have complete control of Congress, strengthening president-elect Joe Biden's standing as he prepares to take office on January 20.

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Donald Trump appears at Georgia rally
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Donald Trump appears at Georgia rally
US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of Senate runoff in Dalton, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: People attend Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: Donald Trump Jr. attends Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump leaves after attending the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: State Representative in the Georgia House of Representatives Vernon Jones attends Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump and his daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump attend the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: Senator Kelly Loeffler speaks as she is flanked by U.S. President Donald J. Trump during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
GEORGIA, USA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald J. Trump attends Victory Rally by the Republican National Committee in Dalton, Georgia, United States on January 04, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Senior advisor to the President Ivanka Trump (R) and brother Donald Trump Jr. listens during a rally in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of Senate runoff in Dalton, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump (C), daughter Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. (L) make their way to board Air Force One before departing from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump waves as he makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and daughter Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump make their way to board Air Force One before departing from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump looks on during a rally in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of a Senate runoff in Dalton, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump gives two thumbs up during a rally in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of Senate runoff in Dalton, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during a rally in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of Senate runoff at Dalton Regional Airport, Georgia on January 4, 2021. - President Donald Trump, still seeking ways to reverse his election defeat, and President-elect Joe Biden converge on Georgia on Monday for dueling rallies on the eve of runoff votes that will decide control of the US Senate. Trump, a day after the release of a bombshell recording in which he pressures Georgia officials to overturn his November 3 election loss in the southern state, is to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
DALTON, GEORGIA - JANUARY 04: Kimberly Guilfoyle, partner of U.S. President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., speaks during a Republican National Committee Victory Rally at Dalton Regional Airport January 4, 2021 in Dalton, Georgia. President Trump campaigned for the two incumbents, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), for tomorrow’s runoff elections in Georgia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DALTON, GEORGIA - JANUARY 04: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a Republican National Committee Victory Rally at Dalton Regional Airport January 4, 2021 in Dalton, Georgia. President Trump campaigned for the two incumbents, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), for tomorrow’s runoff elections in Georgia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Mr Warnock's victory is a symbol of a striking shift in Georgia's politics as the swelling number of diverse, college-educated voters flex their power in the heart of the Deep South.

It marks the end of nearly two decades in which Democrats have been shut out of statewide office and follows Mr Biden's victory in November, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

Mr Warnock, 51, acknowledged his improbable victory in a message to supporters early on Wednesday, citing his family's experience with poverty.

His mother, he said, used to pick "somebody else's cotton" as a teenager.

"The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton picked her youngest son to be a United States senator," he said.

"Tonight, we proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible."

Ms Loeffler refused to concede in a brief message to supporters shortly after midnight.

Kelly Loeffler
Republican Kelly Loeffler refused to concede (John Bazemore/AP)

"We've got some work to do here. This is a game of inches. We're going to win this election," insisted Ms Loeffler, a 50-year-old former businesswoman who was appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the state's governor.

Ms Loeffler, who remains a Georgia senator until the results of Tuesday's election are finalised, said she would return to Washington on Wednesday morning to join a small group of senators planning to challenge Congress's vote to certify Mr Biden's victory.

"We are going to keep fighting for you," Ms Loeffler said.

"This is about protecting the American dream."

Georgia's other runoff election pitted Mr Perdue, a 71-year-old former business executive who held his Senate seat until his term expired on Sunday, against Mr Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist.

At just 33, Mr Ossoff would be the Senate's youngest member.

Election workers on election night at the Beauty P Baldwin Voter Registrations and Elections Building in Lawrenceville, Georgia
Election workers on election night at the Beauty P Baldwin Voter Registrations and Elections Building in Lawrenceville, Georgia (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Mr Trump's false claims of voter fraud cast a dark shadow over the runoff elections, which were held only because no candidate hit the 50% threshold in the general election.

He attacked the state's election chief on the eve of the election and raised the prospect that some votes might not be counted even as votes were being cast on Tuesday afternoon.

Republican state officials on the ground reported no significant problems.

This week's elections mark the formal finale to the turbulent 2020 election season more than two months after the rest of the nation finished voting.

The unusually high stakes transformed Georgia, once a solidly Republican state, into one of the nation's premier battlegrounds for the final days of Mr Trump's presidency – and most likely beyond.

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