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Warnock wins full Senate term after contentious runoff

Late on Tuesday night, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock strode onto a stage in Atlanta, greeted by chants of "six more years" from a crowd of supporters. The incumbent Democrat pulled out a narrow victory over Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia’s much-watched and often-bitter U.S. Senate runoff. With all precincts reporting, Warnock came out on top 51 – 49 – a difference of some 110,000 votes.

Turnout exceeded 50% of registered voters statewide, with over 3.5 million people casting a ballot. 49 percent of voters cast early ballots, 46 percent voted on election day, and 5 percent cast absentee ballots.

Voter turnout was 66 percent in Oconee County, 52 percent in Clarke County, and 50 percent in Jackson County. The race was the most expensive of the 2022 midterms, with outside groups and the candidates campaigns spending in excess of $400 million.

Speaking to supporters, Warnock had a message of unity and conciliation.

"I want all of Georgia to know, whether you voted for me or not, that every single day I am going to keep working for you," Warnock said. "I'm proud of the bipartisan work I've done, and I intend to do more because I actually believe that at the end of the day, we are all Americans."

Warnock’s win came in part because of a surge in Democratic turnout in counties like Fulton and Dekalb, both of which saw Warnock pick up even higher percentages of the vote than he did in the November 8 general election.

That was true in Athens, as well. In the November election, Warnock captured 71 percent of the vote, while last night, his percentage jumped to nearly 74 percent.

Warnock's re-election makes him the first Black man to be elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate from Georgia. His win also gives Senate Democrats some legislative breathing room by bringing the party's Senate majority to 51 votes.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.