Senate

Jon Ossoff defeats David Perdue in Georgia Senate runoff

Jon Ossoff notched a critical victory in Georgia

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POLITICS PRESS GROUP

Jon Ossoff notched a critical victory in Georgia on Wednesday, with a projected defeat of Republican David Perdue in a Senate runoff election that will give Democrats control of the upper chamber.

NBC and CBS called the race shortly after 4 p.m EST.

The runoff was one of two in the Peach State that determines which party will control the Senate — and how effectively President-elect Joe Biden will be able to advance his legislative agenda — beginning Jan. 20. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) faced an equally competitive race against Democrat Raphael Warnock on Tuesday.

Heading into Tuesday, Republicans held a 50-to-48 seat advantage in the Senate. If Democrats pick up both Georgia Senate seats, they will effectively gain a majority in the upper chamber, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

Ossoff, the 33-year-old chief executive of a London-based documentary film company, first rose to national political prominence during his 2017 campaign for a suburban-Atlanta House seat in a special election.

He ultimately lost that race to Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.). But the election, which became the most expensive House race in U.S. history, helped springboard Ossoff into his Senate bid against Perdue, a former corporate executive who is among the wealthiest members of the upper chamber.

The race between Ossoff and Perdue, whose first term in the Senate expired Sunday, advanced to a runoff after neither candidate surpassed the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright in November. Perdue finished slightly ahead in that election, notching just shy of 50 percent to Ossoff’s 47.9 percent.

But the runoff campaign between the two men became consumed over the past two months by congressional negotiations over a coronavirus pandemic relief package and President Trump’s repeated attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Perdue hitched his political fortunes close to those of Trump, while simultaneously seeking to cast Ossoff as a socialist with pro-China leanings. Ossoff, meanwhile, seized on Perdue’s unwillingness to break with the president, as well as allegations that the Georgia senator made a series of well-timed stock trades amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite their repeated attacks on one another, Ossoff and Perdue never met face-to-face on the debate stage during their runoff campaigns. Perdue declined to participate in any debates, largely sticking to a strategy of treating Ossoff as if he was a non-threat.

Ossoff, however, proved an effective fundraiser. He pulled in some $100 million for his runoff campaign, dwarfing what would be an otherwise massive haul of $68 million for Perdue.

Perdue’s loss adds to Republicans’ troubles in a state that has been a Republican stronghold for years, coming on the heels of Biden’s victory over Trump there in November. Ossoff’s win, meanwhile, is the latest sign of Georgia’s transformation into a political battleground that neither party can comfortably claim as their own.

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