politics

Democrats seize US Senate after Georgia victory confirmed amid Capitol riots


Democrats have seized control of the US Senate in a pair of knife-edge elections in Georgia that gave Joe Biden’s imminent administration control of both houses of Congress.

The success was overshadowed events in Washington D.C, however, as pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as the outcome of last November’s election was being confirmed.

Democratic challenger Rev Raphael Warnock won a hotly contested run-off race, defeating Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, who took a page from Donald Trump’s playbook and refused to concede.

Warnock, a 51-year-old Baptist preacher, is the first black US senator in Georgia’s history as the results signalled a shift in politics and the wider deep south.

In the run-off for the state’s other seat, Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, a 33-year-old documentary filmmaker, overcame Republican incumbent David Perdue by a wafer-thin margin.

It was a crushing final defeat for Trump, the one-term president who has just two weeks left in office. No Democrat had won a US Senate race in Georgia for 20 years.

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US Senate Democratic challenger Rev Raphael Warnock
Democratic challenger Rev Raphael Warnock speaks to supporters after winning a US senate seat

Ossoff’s lead was as slim as 0.4 per cent as ballots continued to be counted on Wednesday morning after the critical elections drew a record 4.5 million voters.

Victory would make him the Senate’s youngest member.

Trump stands to be the first president since 1932 to lose the White House and both chambers of Congress in a single term.

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The confirmation of the second seat being flipped to the Democrats came as a joint session of Congress was suspended in Washington and forced into recess as protesters fought their way past police, shouting and waving pro-Trump and US flags as they roamed through halls, demanding the election result be overturned.



Joe Biden’s Democrats will now control both houses of Congress

The invasion sent members of Congress scrambling for cover under their seats and donning gas masks as tear gas was fired.

A woman was shot dead inside the US Capitol during the chaos.

Mr Trump, who had urged the demonstrators to march on the Congress, later called on them to “go home”, and had his Twitter account locked for 12 hours over tweets relating to the riots and baseless electoral fraud claims.

Why were the run-offs so significant?

The outcome of the knife-edge elections determine control of the US Senate and President-elect Joe Biden’s chances of pushing through his legislative agenda over the next four years.

Biden, who defeated Trump in November’s presidential election, will be sworn in on January 20.

Trump still hasn’t conceded, despite Biden being the clear winner, and is still trying to steal the election with false election fraud claims. There is zero evidence of fraud.


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Republicans currently control the Senate and would maintain their grip by winning at least one of the Georgia seats.

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Maintaining control would allow them to block Biden’s agenda, a scenario that President Barack Obama faced during his time in the White House.

The Republicans would wield veto power over Biden’s political and judicial appointees as well as many of his legislative initiatives in areas such as economic relief, climate change, healthcare and criminal justice.

The Democrats needed to win both seats in Georgia to take the Senate majority.

A Democratic sweep would create a 50-50 split in the Senate and give Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, the tie-breaking vote after she and Biden take office.

The party already has a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, meaning a sweep in Georgia’s run-off elections would give them control of Congress.



Republican US Senator Kelly Loeffler addresses her supporters on Tuesday

Run-off elections were held because none of the candidates won 50% of the vote in November.

Gabriel Sterling, a Republican and a top election official in Georgia, told CNN that if the Democrats won both senate seats the losses would “fall squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions since November 3”.

Many white suburbanites in Georgia have increasingly abandoned the Republican party under Trump.

There was an unprecedented number of black voters for a run-off vote.

Georgia’s first black US senator

Warnock, who was pastor at the Atlanta church were Martin Luther King Jnr preached,is set to become the first black US senator from Georgia, a state where 31.9 per cent of the population identified as black or African American in the 2019 census.

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As he addressed his supporters, he recalled his humble upbringing as one of 12 children of a woman who worked in cotton fields.

He said: “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.”



Warnock won a hotly contested runoff election in Georgia

He added: “We were told that we couldn’t win this election. But tonight, we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.

“I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election.”

Ossoff said as he declared victory that he looked forward “to serving you in the United States Senate with integrity, with humility, with honor”.

Biden and Trump both visited the state on Monday to boost their candidates’ chances in Tuesday’s races.

In the final days of the campaign, a recording emerged of Trump urging the state’s Republican officials to “find” enough votes make him the winner.

In November, Trump lost the key state to Biden by just 11,779 votes, or 0.2 per cent.





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