Georgia's Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker came to a close on Tuesday, with Warnock projected by ABC News to defeat Walker, after more than a year of campaigning, multiple controversies and record-breaking turnout.
While the race didn't determine control of the Senate, it did increase Democrats' power in the chamber -- where Vice President Kamala Harris currently has to break ties -- rather than see the Republicans win a 50th seat and create procedural obstacles.
Walker, a businessman and local football legend, and Warnock, a noted reverend in Atlanta, first faced off in November's general election. But neither got 50% of the vote as required by state law, leading to Tuesday's runoff after about a week of early voting.
Dec 7, 2:48 AM
Warnock on his win: 'The people have spoken'
Warnock celebrated his projected victory on Tuesday night in Atlanta, walking out to a crowd chanting "six more years."
"After a hard-fought campaign -- or should I say campaigns? -- it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken," Warnock said to cheers.
He thanked the crowd for their support, in particular his mother.
"She grew up in the 1950s in Waycross, Georgia, picking somebody else's cotton and somebody else's tobacco," he said. "But tonight she helped pick her youngest son to be a United States senator."
Warnock called himself a "proud son of Savannah" while discussing his deep roots in the state.
"I am Georgia," he said. "I am an example and an iteration of its history, of its pain and its promise, of the brutality and the possibility."
"But because this is America, because we always have a path to make this country greater against unspeakable odds, here we stand together," he continued.
Warnock said he plans to keep working for all Georgians, including in areas like lowering prescription costs, creating jobs across the state and addressing criminal justice reform.
"I'm ready to keep doing this work," he said in closing. "Let's build a stronger Georgia."
Dec 7, 12:59 AM
Walker acknowledges defeat: 'We put up one heck of a fight'
Walker acknowledged defeat at his election night party on Tuesday, admitting in a speech to supporters that media outlets had projected he lost to his Democratic opponent.
"But one of the things I said … when they called the race as they didn't know much, but one of the things I want to tell all you is you never stopped dreaming," he said.
"I'm not gonna make any excuses now, because we put up one heck of a fight."
The Trump-backed Walker, who has enjoyed an accomplished football and business career and is a father and two-time husband, said his run for the Senate was the "best thing I've ever done in my whole entire life."
He continued on to deliver largely hopeful remarks, encouraging his voters to keep casting their ballots and believe in the country.
"I don't want any of you to stop believing in America. I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and believe in our elected officials. Most of all, continue to pray for them because all the prayers you've given me, I felt those prayers," Walker said.
"I want to thank all my team as well [as] team Herschel because they put up with a lot, and I want to thank all my donors as well because you guys, without you, I couldn't have done what I've done."
Walker noted a "tough" journey for his wife -- a possible reference to some of the personal controversies that plagued his campaign, including some accusations he denied as political smears.
"I'm going to acknowledge my wife, Julie, because she's with me and she'd been through a tough time," he began.
"But I want to say that I want to thank all of you as well, because we've had a tough journey."
Walker ended by saying he was "never gonna stop fighting."
"Because I always am a winner and we all winner, so we all winners, and that's what I want to say, well, winners, and I want to say God to the good God."
Dec 7, 1:15 AM
Walker's son Christian excoriates his father amid results
Walker’s son was quick to respond to his father’s projected loss in the election, implying that the number of controversies that arose throughout his campaign -- many of which Walker has denied or dismissed as political smears -- contributed to his defeat.
Christian Walker, a conservative social media personality, recently became openly critical of his dad. He denounced Herschel Walker in a series of social media posts and videos in early October after the candidate denied a Daily Beast report that he paid for an ex-girlfriend's abortion in 2009. Herschel Walker has campaigned for the Senate as an anti-abortion politician.
In a string of tweets Tuesday night, the younger Walker touched on many of scandals swirling around the candidate, including those related to abortion, allegations of past domestic violence and absentee parenting.
“Chase more fame, lie, lie, lie, say stupid crap, and make a fool of your family,” he wrote in one tweet.
“The Truth: Trump called my dad for months DEMANDING that he run. Everyone with a brain begged him: “PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. This is too dirty, you have an insane past… PLEASE DONT DO THIS,” Christian Walker continued..
Later, during an audio-only event on Twitter when he took questions about his thoughts of his father and the election, Christian Walker told ABC News it had been a while since they spoke but he didn't rule out a reconciliation at some point.
"It's hard because I'm angry right now. But you know, I need some time to breathe, I know, I'll say that," he said. "And honestly, the thing that I want most out of him is, at the end of the day, gosh, time flies, like I'm an adult. So I'm grown. I'm making money ... Go be the best dad."
Herschel Walker tweeted in October, in response to some of Christian Walker's criticisms. "I LOVE my son no matter what."
-ABC News' Hannah Demissie contributed to this report.
Dec 6, 11:02 PM
Schumer declares Warnock's projected victory a win for 'democracy'
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared Warnock's projected defeat of Walker a win for "democracy."
The victory, which secures a 51-49 majority for Senate Democrats, proves that "Democrats are in sync with the American people and MAGA Republicans are not," Schumer said in a statement.
"Reverend Warnock's well-earned win is not just a victory for Georgia, but also for democracy -- as the last brick in our firewall against extremist MAGA Republican policies that threaten the very essence of our democracy," the statement continued.
-ABC News' Allison Pecorin
Dec 6, 10:57 PM
Scenes from Election Day in Georgia
Georgia voters turned out to the polls in record numbers on Tuesday to cast their ballots in the Senate runoff election between Warnock and Walker.
ABC News has projected that Warnock will win the runoff, making him Georgia’s first Black full-term senator. He has served in the seat since 2021, when he won a runoff against GOP incumbent Kelly Loeffler.
Photos showed supporters of both campaigns gathering to watch results come in.
Filmmaker Spike Lee rallied the crowd at an election night watch party for Warnock in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Voters shattered turnout records this runoff election. Despite rainy weather in parts of the state, some 1.4 million people cast a ballot on Tuesday, according to state officials.
Dec 6, 10:52 PM
How Warnock will make history again
Warnock is projected to make history yet again as the senator of Georgia.
In 2021, he became the first Black senator from Georgia after winning a runoff for a partial term.
With ABC News projecting him to win the Tuesday runoff against Walker, Warnock will become the first Black senator elected to a full six-year term in the state.
Either winner of the close race would have achieved that barrier-breaking feat.
Warnock became only the second Black senator elected from the South since the Reconstruction era, when he won last year's runoff against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Dec 6, 10:28 PM
Warnock projected to defeat Walker, expanding Democrats' Senate majority
Warnock has defeated Walker in Tuesday's runoff election in Georgia, ABC News projects.
Warnock's victory means Democrats will expand their majority in the chamber to 51 seats, compared to Republicans' 49.
The Georgia runoff was the final election of the 2022 midterms.
Dec 7, 2:28 AM
Biden says: 'We're going to win Georgia'
As he stepped off Air Force Once on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden was asked by a reporter to comment on the election in Georgia.
"We're going to win," he replied on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, after returning from a trip to Arizona.
"We're going to win Georgia."
He then boarded his vehicle to drive back into Washington.
-ABC News' Ben Gittleson
Dec 6, 10:21 PM
Inside Warnock headquarters as vote tallies come in
ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, reporting from inside Warnock's headquarters on Tuesday night, said the energy in the room was like a "block party."
"The music somehow gets louder, you have a choir singing over my shoulder here," Scott told "ABC News Live Prime" anchor Linsey Davis.
"People in this room, I can tell you Linsey, they are feeling very confident," Scott later reported. "Just moments ago they said, 'We are almost across the finish line.' This race is still too close to call. Big picture, yes it is tight, but the campaign is keeping their eyes on some of those areas ... right around Atlanta where the votes are still being counted right now. They know that if they do well there and those Democratic-leaning areas, they're going to be on track to have a good night."
"This a campaign that is feeling good so far. But, again: so far. They've been here before. They know that this race could be tight all the way to the end."@rachelvscott reports live from Warnock's campaign headquarters as the Georgia Senate runoff results come in. pic.twitter.com/3yskGl8BKN
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) December 7, 2022
Dec 6, 10:12 PM
Where tallies stand in metro Atlanta
Amid the tight race so far, here's what percentage of the expected vote remains uncounted in several Democratic-leaning metro Atlanta counties:
DeKalb County: 35%
Fulton County: 33%
Cobb County: 15%
Gwinnett County: 10%