The Georgia Senate Runoffs

The Georgia Senate Runoffs


As you may have heard, The Georgia Senate Runoff Election took place on Monday on January 5, 2021. The two Georgia Senate seats were won by Reverend Raphael Warnock (D) and Jon Ossoff (D). But why is this Georgia election important and what does this mean for you?

What is a runoff election?

A Senate runoff in Georgia happens when none of the candidates receive a majority or more than 50 percent of votes. The regular Georgia Senate election occurred on Election Day along with the presidential race. However, none of the candidates received a majority of the votes, which resulted in this runoff election.

What is the special election?

In a usual election, only one Senate seat would be up for election. However, former Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson (R) retired on December 31, 2019, and the Senate seat was appointed to Kelly Loeffler (R) by Governor Brian Kemp (R), until a special election, or an election that takes place when a seat becomes vacant. Due to Georgia law, Georgia could not hold a primary election to decide the Democratic and Republican candidate, and instead held a blanket primary, where all candidates were on the same ballot.  Reverend Raphael Warnock (D) received the most votes or about 32.9 percent of the votes, but not a majority, which resulted in another runoff election with the top two most popular candidates: Reverend Raphael Warnock (D) and Kelly Loeffler (R). This runoff election took place on the same day as the regular election, January 5, 2021.

Why is this important?

Our government consists of three branches: the Executive branch, the Judicial branch, and the Legislative branch. As you may recall, during Election Day, President Joe Biden (D) received 306 electoral votes and won the presidency, making the head of the executive branch a Democrat. The head of the judicial branch, the Supreme Court, currently stands at 6-3 conservative majority (with the recent addition of Amy Coney Barrett, which usually aligns with Republican policies. That leaves the legislative branch that is led by Congress. Congress consists of two sections: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has a Democrat majority, which leaves the Senate. The outcome of the Senate would determine if Democrat-supported bills, like raising the federal minimum wage to $15, could pass since a Republican majority could block such bills.

The Senate is currently made up of 100 seats, two per each state. Before the runoff, the Senate was 50-48 Republican majority with the two Georgia seats up for contest.

The Senate prior to the Georgia Runoffs.

If these two seats are won by Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Senate would tie 50-50 (which last happened in the 2000 Senate election) in which President of the Senate or the Vice President, Kamala Harris (D) would receive an extra vote, tilting the Senate to a Democrat majority. With a Democrat President and Democrat-majority Congress, the Democratic party will likely be able to pass many bills that were previously being blocked by the Republican-majority Senate. As a result, the Georgia Senate runoff election determines what the 117th Congress would look like and what kind of partisan legislation we will see passed in the future.