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With Georgia’s Special Election Moving to a January Runoff, Control of U.S. Senate Could Be Unknown for Weeks

Democrat Raphael Warnock and incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Getty Images)

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

With no one having won more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s special election for U.S. Senate in Georgia, a runoff will take place Jan. 5. Which means control of the Senate may not be known until January.

Incumbent Kelly Loeffler, appointed last year by Gov. Brian Kemp, captured 26.5 percent of the vote in a 20-candidate field. She will move on to face Democrat Raphael Warnock, who won 32 percent of votes. U.S. Rep. Douglas Collins, a Republican, came in third, with 20.4 percent.

Describing herself on the stump as “more conservative than Attila the Hun,” Loeffler spent the runup to Tuesday’s contest differentiating herself from other Trump-aligned Republicans. To beat Warnock, she must now build a coalition. “Get ready for a kinder, gentler Attila the Hun,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA Atlanta Dreams, has tangled with league players over their support for Black Lives Matter and police reforms. In September, she introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that could penalize schools that allow transgender girls to compete in women’s athletics.

Warnock, senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, has borrowed the playbook former state lawmaker Stacey Abrams used in her unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid to turn out young voters and voters of color.

School officials throughout the country are hoping Congress will pass a new stimulus bill containing billions of dollars to offset red ink caused by the added expenses of pandemic education and the pressures of the recession. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, a Kentucky Republican just elected to a seventh term, opposes a lame-duck Senate taking up the issue.

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

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