Warnock and Ossoff victories end GOP control of the Senate
Jon Ossoff, left, and Raphael Warnock wave to the crowd during a campaign rally in Augusta, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Democrats Ossoff and Warnock challenged incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in a runoff election on Jan. 5. | Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP

While a Day of Infamy was unfolding in Washington yesterday, the people of Georgia, with help from across the country, won both Georgia Senate seats—and with them, the U.S. Senate majority for the Democrats—as final votes cemented the historic achievement.

Perhaps the sweetest element of that victory is that it was the work of a ten-year-long movement led by Stacey Abrams and many other Black women in Georgia that resulted in making Raphael Warnock the first-ever African American to be sent by Georgians to the U.S. Senate.

That victory was a shining example in stark contrast to what was happening at the Capitol. While movements led by Black women scored a victory for hope, progress, peace, and inter-racial unity yesterday, the right-wing followers of Donald Trump offered their vision for the country: racism, violence, death, and destruction.

It is fitting that President Donald Trump and what he stands for suffered the stunning defeat in Georgia in the final chaotic days of his disgraceful regime. It is fitting that in those final days, the people now have a better chance of realizing the gains that are possible as a result of the progressive agenda of incoming President Biden and Vice President Harris.

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the Democrats who reflected the diversity of the evolving demographics in Georgia, defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler just two months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

Warnock is pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached. Also historic is the fact that Ossoff, 33, becomes the state’s first Jewish senator and the Senate’s youngest member.

The attempted Trump-led coup in Washington yesterday replaced the historic Georgia election results as what would otherwise have been the top story in America. It may have stolen the headlines, but it did not steal the day. The attempted coup did not stop the certification by Congress of Joe Biden’s election. Biden and Harris ended up being certified, and Mitch McConnell lost the Senate leadership.

The victories in Georgia represented a striking shift in the state’s politics, as the growing number of diverse voters, led by powerful mass movements, displayed the power of the people in the heart of what was the old Confederacy. The voters showed that what happened in November was no fluke. Georgia has been transformed from a stronghold of Republicanism into a battleground state leaning in a progressive direction.

Aimee Allison, co-founder of She The People, said yesterday that the next task is to repeat the Georgia success in more places. “Now, we need millions to organizers in swing states and districts so that we can play the Stacey Abrams long-game in places where turnout and connection with voters of color will win—to defend our gains and set politics for generations to come,” she said.

Warnock vowed to work for all Georgians whether they voted for him or not, citing his personal experience with the American Dream. His mother, he said, used to pick “somebody else’s cotton” as a teenager.

“The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said. “Tonight, we proved with hope, hard work, and the people by our side, anything is possible.”

Loeffler, whom he defeated, remains a senator until the results of Tuesday’s election are made official. She returned to Washington yesterday determined to join the Sedition Caucus challenging Congress’ vote to certify Biden’s victory. She didn’t get a chance to do that before the Trump mob broke into the Capitol and afterward, defeated by the people of her own state, she withdrew her support for the challenge.

Georgia’s other runoff election pitted Perdue, a 71-year-old former business executive who held his Senate seat until his term expired Sunday, against Ossoff, a former congressional aide and currently a photojournalist.

“This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of this state—for all the people of this state,” Ossoff said in a speech broadcast on social media Wednesday morning. “Whether you were for me, or against me, I’ll be for you in the U.S. Senate. I will serve all the people of the state.”

Trump’s false claims of voter fraud actually hurt both Loeffler and Perdue. He was talking about voter fraud even while people were going to the polls in Georgia and he attacked Republicans who run the state’s elections as “chickens with their heads cut off.”

Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the Georgia secretary of state’s office and a Republican, said there was “no evidence of any irregularities.”

“The biggest thing we’ve seen is from the president’s fertile mind of finding fraud where none exists,” he said.

Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown taunted Trump’s top Senate accomplices, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, on Twitter yesterday. | via Twitter

Some Republicans have admitted that Trump’s push to delegitimize the nation’s electoral system may have contributed to the GOP’s losses in Georgia.

“It turns out that telling the voters that the election was rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” said Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican and a frequent Trump critic.

Georgia voters were drawn to the polls not just because of local or state issues but because of the issue of who would control the U.S. Senate. Surveys show this was a major concern for 60% of the voters.

The movements also scored an enormous success when it came to raw turnout. More people cast ballots in the runoffs than voted in Georgia’s 2016 presidential election.

The co-founder of Black Voters Matter, LaTosha Brown, spoke directly yesterday to the defeated GOP leaders in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, two of Trump’s top accomplices. Brown tweeted, “Mitch, we told you we were coming for you and Lindsey.”

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.