Loeffler Concedes Georgia Senate Race as Recount Now Unlikely
(Bloomberg) -- Senator Kelly Loeffler conceded the Georgia runoff election on Thursday to Democrat Raphael Warnock, ending a hard-fought race to keep the seat — and the balance of the U.S. Senate — in Republican hands.
“Unfortunately, we came up slightly short in the runoff election and earlier today I called Reverend Warnock to congratulate him and to wish him well in serving this great state,” she said in a video posted on Twitter.
Loeffler’s concession came as Warnock’s margin of victory exceeded the number that would have allowed her to request a recount.
But she said “the fight against socialism and the radical agenda of the left is far from over,” echoing the theme of her campaign that Warnock was too liberal.
Loeffler was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to fulfill the term of retired Senator Johnny Isakson, who was up for re-election in 2022. That means Warnock will face re-election again in two years.
Democrat Jon Ossoff, the winner of the other Georgia seat, has a narrower margin of victory but also exceeds the 0.5 percentage-point margin needed to prevent a recount.
Ossoff led former Senator David Perdue, whose term ended Sunday, by 36,766 votes Thursday morning, or 50.4% to 49.6%.
Warnock had an even bigger edge over Loeffler: 74,611 votes, or 50.8% to 49.2%.
While some mail-in ballots have yet to be counted, most of those come from predominantly Democratic counties and the secretary of state’s chief election official, Gabriel Sterling, says he doesn’t expect them to change the outcome. In addition, as many as 13,000 overseas and military ballots could arrive by Friday’s deadline, but slow mail service means they may never be counted.
The Perdue campaign did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday about any plans to challenge the results.
The Perdue campaign called it “an exceptionally close election.” In a statement Tuesday night, the campaign said it would “mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted.”
Loeffler told supporters in Atlanta early Wednesday morning that she still had “a path to victory” and would make sure every vote is counted.
After a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Loeffler dropped her challenge to the presidential election results during a congressional certification of the Electoral College results. But she said that the Senate must “turn our focus to protecting the integrity of our elections and restoring every American people’s faith that their voice and their vote matters.”
The deadline for Georgia to certify the results is Jan. 22, but it could happen earlier if all 159 counties complete their work before then. Candidates have two days after certification to request a recount.
The Senate doesn’t have to wait until the results are certified to swear in new members, but the Senate isn’t expected to have a working session until Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
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