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Key takeaways from Ga. Democrats’ showing in Senate runoffs

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 8:20 AM EST
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ATLANTA (AP) — President Donald Trump came to the north Georgia mountains Monday night ostensibly to goose turnout in conservative strongholds and stave off strong Democratic challengers.

It didn’t work, as Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Republicans David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler to claim a Senate majority on the strength of a broad coalition.

Across the state, even where Trump rallied, Democrats did a better job in the runoffs of nearly matching their November than Republicans did.

The victories come after years of organizing work by the Democratic Party and its allies.

Among them is Stacey Abrams, who spent years trying to convince Democratic Party leaders that an untapped well of potential voters could upend Republican domination in the state.

After disappointments including her own narrow defeat for governor in 2018, she is being credited with laying the organizational groundwork that helped Democrats capture the state’s two Senate seats.

Those victories propelled the party into the Senate majority and follow Joe Biden’s win in November.

The turnabout leaves Abrams as perhaps the nation’s most popular, influential Democrat not in elected office.

It also gives the 47-year-old voting rights advocate considerable momentum for whatever comes next — most likely a rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.

Meanwhile, among those excited by Warnock’s win are religious liberals.

It adds to their emboldenment with the election of Biden, who’s made faith a central part of his political identity on the campaign trail.

The Rev. Derrick Harkins was an adviser to the Democratic Party on interfaith outreach during Warnock’s campaign.

He says Warnock’s win shows that faith communities have a “real and important presence in the conversation” around politics and policymaking.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also wove their faith experiences into their messaging in 2020.

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