The Democrats have won control of the U.S. Senate after two narrow victories in runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday.
Jon Ossoff was declared the winner over Sen. David Perdue on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. Rev. Raphael Warnock had earlier claimed victory over appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler.
The victories put the Senate at an even 50-50 split. With Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote, the Democrats will be able to claim the majority and control chairmanships of Senate committees. Democrats have not controlled the Senate since 2014.
Ossoff was declared the winner as violence broke out on Capitol Hill, as supporters of President Trump stormed the building and interrupted the certification of the Electoral College vote.
Perdue and Loeffler have yet to concede their races, and Perdue issued a statement on Tuesday night saying he would “mobilize every available resource” to see that all legal votes were counted.
In a video message to supporters on Tuesday night, Warnock said he was honored by the faith Georgians had shown in him.
“I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia,” he said.
On Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement congratulating Warnock and Ossoff on their campaigns. He also said that he still plans to work with both parties to advance his agenda.
“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: they want action on the crises we face and they want it right now,” Biden said.
When he is sworn in, Warnock will become the first Black senator ever elected from Georgia. Ossoff, 33, would be the youngest senator in decades.
On TV on Tuesday night, the runoff provided a brief reprise of November’s election night, which stretched out for several days. The cable news networks featured familiar scenes of number-crunchers zooming in on interactive maps of the state, as county-by-county results slowly trickled in. Meanwhile, the New York Times’ needle presented a more clarifying view of the race, showing a consistent advantage for the Democrats throughout the night.
None of the four candidates won a majority in the November election, forcing both races to runoffs on Tuesday. The races attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spending, as Democrats hoped to give President-elect Biden control of both houses of Congress. Hollywood donors gave heavily to the two Democrats, and used social media to urge Georgians to get to the polls.
Tyler Perry flew back to the state to vote, after he said on Twitter that his absentee ballot never arrived. He said the election was “too important to miss.”
“Y’all get out and vote, get out and vote, get out and vote,” Perry said in a Twitter video.
The Republican candidates, meanwhile, made the race about preventing “radical socialists” from claiming control of government. Loeffler urged supporters to help “hold the line” against the Democrats.
“We’re the only ones left who can stop them,” Perdue said in one ad. “We win Georgia, we save America.”
The Democrats campaigned on a promise to deliver a $2,000 stimulus check to voters, picking up on a policy supported by President Trump but opposed by Senate Republicans. They also hammered the Republicans for allegedly trading stocks to profit from knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ossoff called Perdue a “crook” at their debate, and Perdue ran an ad saying that he was “totally exonerated” of the charges.
The Senate has not been evenly divided since 2001, when Vice President Dick Cheney cast the tie-breaking vote for the Republicans. The two parties worked out a power-sharing deal which provided for equal committee representation. Republicans held the majority for several months, until Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords switched parties.