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Democrats capture control of the Senate with victories in Georgia

In the midst of the chaos at the Capitol, we saw a shift of power in the U.S. Senate after the vote in Georgia as Democrats won both runoff elections. William Brangham has the story.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    At the same time, there was so much chaos unfolding at the Capitol today, we saw a shift of power in the U.S. Senate after the vote in the state of Georgia.

    Democrats won both the run-off — both run-off elections.

    And William Brangham has that story.

  • William Brangham:

    With the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in its hands, history was made in Georgia. Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock, now senator-elect, defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, to become the first Black senator in the state's history.

    And just this afternoon, Jon Ossoff, who challenged Republican incumbent David Perdue, was declared the winner of his race. He will be Georgia's first ever Jewish senator.

    Warnock, who's a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, celebrated his victory yesterday and his place in history.

  • Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock:

    Because this is America, 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.

  • William Brangham:

    Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia and a Republican, spoke to reporters this morning.

  • Gabriel Sterling:

    It was an impressive feat by whomever did it to get 100,000 people to show up on a January election who did not show up in a November election.

  • William Brangham:

    It was the highest turnout for a Georgia run-off election on record.

    Suburban voters in the growing Atlanta metro area delivered the lion's share of votes to Democrats Ossoff and Warnock. And across the state, Black voters were key to their success.

    Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has made Black voter turnout her focus. Years of organizing against voter suppression has increased access to marginalized voters and has transformed Georgia from a Republican stronghold to a competitive political battleground.

    Ossoff thanked Georgia voters for electing him.

  • Sen.-elect Jon Ossoff:

    Whether you were for me or against me, I will be for you in the U.S. Senate. I will serve all the people of the state. I will give everything I have got to ensuring that Georgia's interests are represented in the U.S. Senate.

  • William Brangham:

    While Ossoff and Warnock's win is a major feat for Democrats, Loeffler and Perdue, both strong Trump loyalists, have signaled they too plan to fight. '

    Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate in 2019, has yet to concede. She addressed he supporters late in the night.

  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler:

    Well, we have got some work to do here. This is a game of inches. We're going to win this election. We're going to save this country.


  • William Brangham:

    In a statement early this morning, Perdue told supporters — quote — "We will mobilize every available resource to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted."

    With all the final votes still being counted, it remains unclear whether the margins will be great enough for any losing candidate to request a statewide recount.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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