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Ossoff widens lead in Georgia, race still too close to call

The Hill logo The Hill 1/6/2021 John Bowden
a man standing in front of Mircea Badea et al. posing for the camera: Ossoff widens lead in Georgia, race still too close to call © Getty Images Ossoff widens lead in Georgia, race still too close to call

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff's lead over incumbent Republican David Perdue in one of Georgia's two Senate runoff elections grew early Wednesday, but remained too close to call.

According to The Associated Press, Ossoff led Perdue, whose term in the Senate ended on Sunday, by just over 16,000 votes, well within the 0.5 percentage point margin that triggers an automatic state-run recount of the votes. Approximately 98 percent of the votes cast have been counted, the AP noted.

Ossoff declared victory Wednesday morning with the race still uncalled, thanking supporters and saying he would focus on COVID-19 relief.

The 33-year-old media producer would become the youngest member of the U.S. Senate if elected, and his victory would guarantee a Democratic Senate majority for at least the first two years of President-elect Joe Biden's presidency. The Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), who challenged Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in the other runoff, was declared the winner of that race late Tuesday evening.

"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," Warnock told his supporters in a victory message Tuesday night.

Perdue was forced off the campaign trail in the waning days of the race due to COVID-19 exposure.

The contest drew national attention due to President Trump's unproven claims of widespread election fraud in states in which he was defeated in November, including Georgia.

Experts worried that Trump's arguments of fraud and corruption surrounding Georgia's voting system would suppress Republican turnout, while state election officials said in the days leading up to the runoffs that they expected historic turnout for a non-presidential election year.

Updated at 8:44 a.m.

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