Democrat Warnock Leads Loeffler as Georgia Senate Race Heads to Runoff

Democrat Warnock Leads Loeffler as Georgia Senate Race Heads to Runoff

Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

The Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, emerged as the leader Tuesday over Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, in a special election to fill a Georgia Senate seat that will now be decided in a January runoff. 

The Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, emerged as the leader Tuesday over Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, in a special election to fill a Georgia Senate seat that will now be decided in a January runoff.

Fueled by his party’s resurgence in the heart of the Deep South, Dr. Warnock will face Ms. Loeffler in a closely watched one-on-one contest on Jan. 5. Ms. Loeffler, a businesswoman and the Senate’s richest member, was temporarily appointed to fill the seat late last year.

With a crowded field of Democrats and Republicans on the Nov. 3 ballot, neither reached the 50 percent threshold required under Georgia law to win outright, according to The Associated Press, but after a nasty intraparty struggle, Ms. Loeffler prevailed over Representative Doug Collins.

The runoff between Dr. Warnock and Ms. Loeffler promised to be one of the hardest-fought and most expensive contests in the state’s history. Depending on the outcome of other races, it could determine which party controls the Senate just two weeks before Inauguration Day.

Democrats have pined for Georgia to turn blue for a decade, fueled by an increasingly diverse electorate and the shift, since 2016, of well-educated white voters in the populous suburbs of Atlanta away from the Republican Party.

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