U.S. Senate Georgia Runoffs: Who Are Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock?

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UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 29 (FILE): Democratic candidates for Georgia senate Rev. Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff, attend a drive-in rally with Muscogee County Democrats at the Civic Center in Columbus, Ga., on Thursday, October 29, 2020.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Two weeks after Election Day, the Presidential race continues to draw most of our attention. However, another race is arguably just as important, and is currently hanging in the balance. November 3rd gave the electorate the opportunity to decide whether the Republican Party would maintain their majority in the United States Senate. With 35 contested races, the Democrats flipped 2 seats to the Republicans’ 1, meaning that Democrats reduced the GOP’s majority. The current results give the Democrats 48 seats and the Republicans 50, with 2 seats remaining.

Both remaining seats are from the state of Georgia. In the first race, incumbent Sen. David Perdue beat challenger Jon Ossoff by over 86,000 votes (1.7%). In the second race, Georgia’s Special Election, challenger Raphael Warnock received more votes than incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, with Warnock receiving over 344,000 more votes (7%). However, there were two Republicans in that race, with Doug Collins receiving a total of over 979,000 votes (19.9%). This meant that Warnock only received 32.9% of the total vote, with the combined Republican vote surpassing his total by a whopping 633,835 votes (12.9%).

Under a 1960s Georgia law, “candidates must receive a majority of the vote to win an election.” If neither candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, “the top two vote-getters then face off again in a runoff election to determine the winner.” Since no candidate received more than the required 50% (with Sen. Perdue missing out by just 0.3%), both seats will be decided in a runoff election due to be held on January 5th.

As a result, control of the Senate will be decided by the outcome of these elections. If Democrats win both, that will split the Senate by 50 seats to 50. In the likely event that Joe Biden is confirmed as President, this would give the deciding vote to his Vice President, Kamala Harris. For Republicans to maintain their majority, at least one of Sen. Perdue and Sen. Loeffler must retain their seat. For Democrats to win an effective majority, both Ossoff and Warnock must emerge victorious.

But who are the two candidates Democrats — both regionally and on a national level — will be working to elect?

Jon Ossoff

Jon Ossoff was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1987. He attended an elite private school, and then graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2009. Since 2013, Ossoff has been CEO and Managing Director of Insight TWI, an investigative television production company based in London, who work to produce documentaries focusing on corruption across the world.

In 2017, Ossoff ran for Georgia’s 6th congressional district in another special election. He received endorsements on the local level from Rep. Hank Johnson (for whom Ossoff had worked as a national security staffer and aide for 5 years) and Stacey Abrams, and on the national level from Sen. Bernie Sanders. This race was the most expensive in U.S. history, with Ossoff raising more than $23 million “in an attempt to flip the historically red district.” After leading with just over 48% of the vote, no candidate received an absolute majority, and after the top two vote-getters competed in a runoff election on June 20th 2017, Republican Karen Handel defeated Ossoff by over 9,000 votes (3.8%).

After receiving 52.82% of the vote during the Democratic primary in June 2020 for a Senate seat, Ossoff again broke fundraising records in a Democrat attempt to oust Sen. Perdue, raising over $21 million. 

Much in the same way as Beto O’Rourke (who has also attempted to use electoral failure as a political ladder), Ossoff and his campaign style have been likened to that of Barack Obama. According to his campaign website, Ossoff is “running to ensure every Georgian has great health care, to deliver historic investments in clean energy and infrastructure, to rebuild this economy so working families and small businesses thrive, and to root out corruption so government serves the people — not private interests with legions of lobbyists.” 

Raphael Warnock

Raphael Warnock was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1969, graduated from Morehouse College, and then earned a Master of Divinity, Master of Philosophy, and Doctor of Philosophy from the Columbia University affiliated Union Theological Seminary.

Since 2005, Warnock has been the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the second inauguration of Barack Obama in 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction, “recalling [Martin Luther] King’s theology of a ‘beloved community.’”

In January 2020, Warnock decided to run against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed after Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned. He has been endorsed by multiple Democratic Senators, including Sen. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders, as well as Stacey Abrams, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter.

Unlike the unknown Ossoff, Warnock’s personal and professional history is laced with controversy. Speaking of a 2002 investigation, Tom Cotton tweeted that “Raphael Warnock confirmed that he was arrested for obstructing an investigation into suspected child abuse at a camp he helped lead.”

Warnock has also been heavily criticized for promoting an anti-Semitic blood libel during a 2018 sermon:

We need a two-state solution where all of God’s children can live together. We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey. . . . It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all. And it’s no more anti-Semitic for me to say that than it is anti-white for me to say that Black lives matter. Palestinian lives matter.

Alongside other religious leaders, Warnock issued a joint statement in 2019 which likened Israel to apartheid South Africa and Communist East German:

We saw the patterns that seem to have been borrowed and perfected from other previous oppressive regimes. The ever-present physical walls that wall in Palestinians in a political wall reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. . . . The heavy militarization of the West Bank, reminiscent of the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa.

Warnock has also praised Jeremiah Wright — an anti-Semitic and anti-American former pastor of Barack Obama who said “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” shortly after 9/11 and that “them Jews” in the Obama administration were preventing Obama and Wright from talking to one another — and described Wright’s controversial “God Damn America” sermon as “very fine.” This “very fine” sermon compared America to al-Qaeda, “suggested the U.S. government distributed illegal drugs in America’s cities,” and that the U.S. government invented HIV “as a means of genocide against people of color.”

Warnock also has ties to Dr. James Hal Cone, “another radical black theologian” who has “called white Christians ‘satanic’ and called for ‘the destruction of everything white.’”

Warnock’s campaign website states that “Reverend Raphael Warnock is running for Senate to fight for affordable health care, protect voting rights, and ensure the dignity of working people.”

Ian Haworth is host of The Ian Haworth Show and The Truth in 60 Seconds. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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