The U.S. Senate race in Georgia between Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff will head to a runoff after neither candidate secured the 50% needed to head straight to Congress, The Associated Press projected Friday.
Perdue was slightly ahead in the race as of Friday evening but didn’t meet the threshold necessary to avoid a runoff.
Georgia’s other Senate seat will also be determined by a runoff after no candidate in that race won a majority of the votes. Democrat Raphael Warnock will face off against the GOP’s Kelly Loeffler, who has been in the seat since December 2019 when she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R).
Both parties will closely watch the outcomes of the two races since they will likely determine control of the Senate.
Ossoff, a rising Democratic star, campaigned strongly against the Republican Party’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, accused his competitor of being entrenched in Washington’s “swamp” and turned the election into a referendum on President Donald Trump.
“Two hundred twenty thousand Americans have been killed and listen to you — not a shred of empathy — not a shred of personal responsibility (about) a virus that you told us posed low risk to our health,” Ossoff, 33, said during a debate with Perdue in October.
Despite polls that showed the race as a toss-up in the campaign’s final days, Perdue, a close ally of President Donald Trump, said he was “feeling really good” after spending time with supporters in Republican strongholds.
“Every election is important,” Perdue told a local ABC affiliate last week. “I think this one is different because we have such a dramatic difference between the outcomes. One side really wants to go to a radical, socialist direction. The other side is backing up what we did pre-COVID, which is the best economic turnaround in U.S. history.”
Ossoff lambasted Perdue, 70, for his close relationship to Trump and for joining the GOP’s rush to install Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Let’s remember that four years ago, Sen. Perdue was adamant, he gave impassioned floor speeches on the floor of the Senate, that no confirmation of a Supreme Court justice should proceed in a presidential election year,” Ossoff said in the debate. “Now he’s thrown those so-called principles aside.”
The runoff will come full circle for Ossoff, who ran but ultimately lost a special election in 2107 to fill a House seat in a GOP-dominant Atlanta suburb. He distinguished himself as an upcoming Democratic Party talent during that election with his massive fundraising.
Over the last three months of the campaign, Ossoff brought in more than $21 million, the largest quarterly fundraising figure for a Senate race in Georgia history. The incumbent only raised about $5.6 million during that period.
Perdue’s campaign was plagued by several scandals, including an advertisement that prompted critics to accuse the senator of using anti-Semitic tropes. He also took a cheap shot at Sen. Kamala Harris’ name during an event for Trump last month that was likened to race-baiting.