GOP's Loeffler concedes to Warnock in Georgia runoff

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler greets supporters during a Republican election-night watch party, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA – Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Thursday conceded to Democrat Raphael Warnock in one of two Georgia Senate runoffs that will give control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats.

Loeffler, who was appointed to the position a year ago to replace outgoing Sen. Johnny Isakson, posted a video to social media Thursday evening saying that she had called Warnock to congratulate him.

With his victory in Tuesday’s election, Warnock becomes the first African American from Georgia elected to the Senate.

“Unfortunately we came up slightly short in the runoff election,” Loeffler says in the video. “Earlier today I called Rev. Warnock to congratulate him and to wish him well in serving this great state.”

A spokesman for Warnock's campaign confirmed that Loeffler had conceded but declined to comment further.

Democrat Jon Ossoff beat Republican David Perdue in Georgia’s other Senate runoff. Perdue has yet to concede. In a statement released early Wednesday, his campaign vowed to “mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse."

The two Democrats’ wins, along with President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia in November, mark a huge shift in Georgia politics, which have been dominated by Republicans in recent years. Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

Warnock is pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.

Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman who has closely allied herself with President Donald Trump, relentlessly tried to paint Warnock as a “radical liberal" during the campaign — rarely mentioning his name without that epithet attached. But in the end, Warnock was able to defeat Loeffler with a diverse coalition that included Black voters, young people and suburbanites uncomfortable with the GOP's direction under Trump.

Tuesday's runoff election broke turnout records for a Georgia runoff, with more than 4.4 million ballots cast.