Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) was projected to win Georgia’s Senate runoff on Tuesday, sending him to the upper chamber for a full term and handing his party a crucial extra seat in the majority.
The Associated Press called the race at 10:26 p.m. ET.
Warnock, who is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, defeated former professional football player Herschel Walker, who was backed by former President Trump. The race went to a runoff last month after neither candidate was able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote on Election Day.
Warnock’s win is yet another example of Democrats defying expectations in what was supposed to be a bruising midterm year for them. The party was running against rising inflation, gas prices and the historical trend of the sitting president’s party losing seats in its first midterm election.
While Republicans will hold the majority in the House, Warnock’s win brings Democrats a 51-seat majority in the Senate. Democrats technically would have held the majority if Walker won, but Tuesday’s victory means Democrats will have a majority on all committees, which will allow them to easily advance President Biden’s nominees.
This is the second Senate race Warnock has won in less than two years. He defeated former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga) in a special election that also went to a runoff in January 2021. Tuesday’s victory means he will be able to serve a full six-year term before facing his next election.
His victory is not necessarily a surprise. Polls in the past few weeks consistently showed Warnock narrowly leading Walker, though Democrats were still cognizant of Georgia’s status as a swing state. While Warnock, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Biden flipped the state in 2020, Republicans still hold a competitive edge there. Last month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) handily defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in the state’s gubernatorial election.
Both candidates have been crisscrossing the Peach State over the last few weeks, with prominent Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) coming to campaign for Walker and former President Obama stumping for Warnock.
Trump, who used the 2020 Georgia Senate runoffs to tout his false claims that the presidential election was stolen, was notably absent from the campaign trail over the past month.