U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler conceded defeat on Thursday to Raphael Warnock and formally ended her campaign against the Democrat, who will become the first Black senator in Georgia history when he takes office this month.
The Republican called to congratulate Warnock on his victory, she said in a statement, as election returns showed she trailed him by about 80,000 votes.
“While my heart breaks at not being able to continue to serve Georgia and America, I’m tremendously proud of all we achieved together,” Loeffler said in a video posted shortly after the call.
National outlets projected Warnock’s victory early Wednesday, hours after he surpassed Loeffler in the vote total. Loeffler told supporters at her election watch party that victory was still possible, though even then many Republicans privately conceded she had no path to victory.
As more ballots were tallied later Wednesday, Jon Ossoff was projected to defeat U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the state’s other runoff, flipping control of the Republican-held chamber. Perdue, who trails Ossoff by roughly 40,000 votes, has yet to concede.
Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, is the first Georgia Democrat to win a statewide contest since 2006, and his stunning victory was fueled by epic turnout from African American voters and strong support across metro Atlanta’s suburbs.
It came on the heels of Joe Biden’s narrow November victory in Georgia, which made him the first Democratic presidential nominee to capture the state since 1992 and offered partisans a road map to winning a second round in January.
Loeffler is a former financial executive who was picked by Gov. Brian Kemp to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
On Wednesday, after a mob encouraged by President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol, Loeffler abandoned her plan to challenge Georgia’s presidential election results in Congress.
In her video message, Loeffler praised the legacy of Harrison Deal, an “amazing” young campaign aide who died in a December traffic accident. And she singled out her husband, financial executive Jeff Sprecher, “for the sacrifices you made out of love for me and our country.” She also thanked the aides who “became like family to me.”
“Rest assured: The fight to advance the American dream is far from over,” she said. “The fight to protect conservative values is far from over. And the fight against socialism and the radical agenda of the left is very far from over.
“I fully intend to stay in this fight for freedom, for our values, and for the future of this great country.”
Watch the video: