THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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One election pits Republican David Perdue, 71 years old, against Democrat Jon Ossoff, 33. Mr. Perdue spent the past six years as a Georgia senator and is up for reelection after his term ended on Sunday. Mr. Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, is seeking to win his first elected office.
In the other race, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, 50, is running against Democrat Raphael Warnock. Sen. Loeffler was appointed to her post last year to fill a vacant seat. If she wins, she will become the first woman ever elected senator from Georgia. Mr. Warnock, 51, is pastor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ’s former church. If he wins, he will be the first Black senator elected from Georgia.
Georgia and the Runoff Races
It isn’t clear when election results will be available after the polls close on Election Day, as election workers in Georgia’s 159 counties process the day’s votes as well as absentee and early-voting ballots. In November, final results took weeks to be certified. With spending exceeding $500 million, the races are among the most expensive Senate contests in history.
Republicans currently have a majority of 51 to 48 in the Senate. If Democrats win both Georgia races by defeating Ms. Loeffler and taking Mr. Perdue’s seat, they will gain control because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast tiebreaking votes. If Republicans win one of them, the GOP will maintain its majority.
Since 1988, Republicans have also won every statewide runoff in Georgia except one, in 1998, as Democratic turnout declined more steeply than that of Republicans for the second election, according to a nonpartisan report on the state’s history of runoffs. Democrats are aware of that history and built an unprecedented turnout operation for these runoffs, hoping to best the Republicans’ own aggressive effort.
Mr. Biden, President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Ms. Harris all campaigned for the candidates of their respective parties in the push.
Monet Taylor, owner of a commercial-cleaning business in Cumming, Ga., attended a rally Mr. Trump held for the Republican candidates in Dalton on Monday night. She said she was disappointed that so many Republican elected officials—including many in Georgia—aren’t more loyal to Mr. Trump. “I can name only a few,” she said, noting that she thought Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler’s support for Mr. Trump’s fight against the November election results proved they were worth voting for in the runoff races.
Anthony Mitchell, a mechanic from Savannah, where Ms. Harris attended a rally, said he would vote for the two Democrats in part to send a message to the nation about Georgia’s changing politics. “I do remember the Jim Crow South,” said Mr. Mitchell, who is Black. Mr. Mitchell, 60 years old, said he had “seen the Black community start participating, and it’s starting to shift things.”
The races, which both parties expect to be close, have been overshadowed by Mr. Trump’s claims since November that the results of the presidential election—which showed him narrowly losing in Georgia—were false.
He has directed much of his ire at Republican state officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Both men were supporters of Mr. Trump. Mr. Raffensperger launched a statewide hand recount of all five million ballots cast, a process observed by representatives from both parties. That recount found Mr. Biden won. A second recount, requested by the Trump campaign and this time a scan of the paper ballots, found Mr. Biden won.
Ultimately, the state certified that Mr. Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes. Georgia’s 16 electors voted for Mr. Biden in the electoral college.
The lack of success in efforts to overturn the Georgia results has infuriated Mr. Trump. On Sunday, media outlets obtained a recording of a roughly hourlong conversation the president and advisers held Saturday with Mr. Raffensperger and his staff. During the conversation, the president asked Mr. Raffensperger to launch further investigations into the Georgia November election, which Mr. Trump asserted repeatedly he won.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” he declared at one point in the conversation. Mr. Raffensperger refused to change the certified election results, and Mr. Sterling on Monday offered data that directly refuted the Trump campaign’s fraud claims.
The revelation of the telephone conversation dominated the final days of the runoff campaigns, which were required after no Senate candidate won more than 50% of the vote in November. Under Georgia law, those results automatically triggered runoffs between the two top vote-getters.
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The candidates’ closing arguments echoed those in November. Republicans have pledged that Georgia’s Senate seats were “the last line of defense” stopping Mr. Biden and the Democrats from having complete control of Congress and the White House.
“First of all, this is the last opportunity we will have to protect everything that we’ve accomplished in the last four years,” Mr. Perdue said Monday on Fox News. “The second thing is [this is] the last line of defense to stop the Democrats from perpetrating this radical socialist agenda. It’s as simple as that.”
Democrats, meanwhile, have tried to activate the coalition that delivered the surprise win for Mr. Biden in November, making him the first Democratic presidential nominee to capture Georgia since 1992. Mr. Biden himself campaigned in Georgia on Monday, urging his supporters to deliver a Democratic Senate.
“Georgia—the whole nation is looking to you to lead us forward,” Mr. Biden said in Atlanta on Monday. “One state can chart the course not just for the next four years but for a generation,” he said, pointing to his proposals around climate change, expanding health-care access and providing $2,000 stimulus checks to families during the pandemic.