Democrat Raphael Warnock wins Senate race in Georgia

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Source: Financial Times

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Jon Ossoff clings to narrow lead in second contest that will decide which party controls upper chamber

Raphael Warnock held a significant lead over his Republican rival Kelly Loeffler early on Wednesday morning. If elected, he would become Georgia’s first black US senator © Reuters

Raphael Warnock became the first African-American to win a US Senate seat in Georgia, as fellow Democratic contender Jon Ossoff clung to a narrow lead in a second contest that will decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.

Mr Warnock was declared the victor by the Associated Press in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Shortly after 4am US Eastern Standard Time, as counting continued, he had 50.6 per cent of the vote with a lead of roughly 53,000 over Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

In the other Georgia Senate race, Mr Ossoff led Republican incumbent David Perdue by nearly 16,000 votes. Roughly 4.4m votes had been counted by 4am, with many of the remaining ballots expected to come from areas that favour Democrats.

US government bonds and technology stock futures sold off sharply on the prospect of higher corporate taxes and a bigger fiscal stimulus that could feed through to inflation.

US 10-year Treasury yields hit 1 per cent for the first time in more than nine months, rising 0.06 percentage points to 1.02 per cent in Asia trading, reflecting market expectations of higher government spending under Mr Biden. Yields rise when bond prices fall.

The two run-off elections were triggered after none of the candidates earned more than 50 per cent of the vote in the November 3 general election, and took place in the shadow of Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to accept his loss to Joe Biden.

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If Democrats win both contests, it would prove pivotal for Mr Biden’s presidency as his party would control the Senate along with the House of Representatives, giving him more leeway to implement his legislative agenda.

The Associated Press, which the Financial Times relies upon to call elections, had not declared Mr Ossoff’s race in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but several pundits said the Democrat held the advantage.

Ellen Foster, Mr Ossoff’s campaign manager, said she was confident that he would emerge as the victor.

“When all the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won,” Ms Foster said. “The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant.”

The campaign of his rival Mr Perdue said in a statement that “this is an exceptionally close election that will require time and transparency to be certain the results are fair and accurate”.

“We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted. We believe in the end, Senator Perdue will be victorious,” the statement said.

Before the AP called his race, Mr Warnock thanked his supporters in a speech delivered over video-link. “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,” he said.

“I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia,” he added.

Mr Warnock, the senior pastor of Martin Luther King Jr’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, will become only the 11th black senator in US history. In his video speech, he thanked his 82-year-old mother, who grew up picking cotton in the southern US state.

Ms Loeffler, who has said she will object to the certification of electoral college votes in Congress on Wednesday, refused to concede and said she still had a “path to victory”.

“This is a game of inches,” Ms Loeffler told supporters at an event in Atlanta before the race was called. “We are going to win this election.”

In a normal election cycle, without a president going psycho . . . the GOP would have significant advantages here. But that’s not the election we’re in

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