(NewsNation) — Decision Desk HQ has called Georgia’s runoff Senate race for incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who has a small lead in votes as of Tuesday evening, according to unofficial results.
All eyes were on Georgia’s Senate race heading into last month’s election. At that time, the race’s outcome might have decided whether Democrats or Republicans would control the Senate.
Democrats retained that control early last month, but both parties maintained their watch of the neck-and-neck race between Warnock and former football star Herschel Walker.
On one hand, another Democratic win now reinforces the party’s thin majority in the Senate, while the Republican loss could come back to haunt former President Donald Trump, who encouraged Walker to run.
“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 in a victory speech at a watch party in Atlanta.
He took a swipe at new election laws passed in the state last year that condensed the runoff period, cutting roughly in half the early voting window. Georgia saw record early voting turnout in the first few days of the runoff, with more than 300,000 ballots cast on single days.
But it came with lines that were hours long, and opponents of the legislation argued it would lead to voter suppression.
“Let me be clear: just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some blocks long, just because they endured the rain and the cold and all kinds of tricks in order to vote, doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist,” Warnock said. “It simply means that you the people have decided that your voices will not be silenced.”
In a concession speech at a watch party in Atlanta, Walker thanked his supporters and said he’s “never going to stop fighting for Georgia.”
“Without you, I couldn’t have done what I’ve done,” Walker said. “There’s no excuses in life, and I’m not going to make any excuses now, because I put up one heck of a fight.”
He went on to say the best thing he’s done in his life, even more so than playing football and winning the Heisman Trophy, was running for U.S. Senate.
The Senate race was too close to call after the November midterm election. Neither candidate earned the majority of votes necessary under Georgia’s voting system, and the race was extended to Tuesday for a runoff election.
Warnock originally won his seat in a runoff in 2021.
Tuesday’s election made for the most expensive Senate race this cycle, with total spending surpassing $400 million, according to Open Secrets.
Warnock raised more than Walker and far outspent the Republican, tapping more than $126 million of his campaign funds. That’s compared to the $48.5 million Walker spent, according to the most recent data available from Open Secrets.
Neither campaign was without controversy.
Earlier this year The Daily Beast reported that a woman alleged Walker reimbursed her for an abortion in 2009. The outlet said it reviewed a receipt and a get-well-soon card from Walker, who has denied the allegation and threatened to sue the news outlet.
The New York Times reported Walker pressured the same woman to have a second abortion two years later, and the two broke up when she refused to terminate that pregnancy.
Then, in October, a second woman came forward with allegations that she had had a six-year relationship with Walker, whom she said pressured her to have an abortion, paid for the procedure and drove her to the clinic.
Warnock faced accusations of trying to evict chronically homeless residents of a low-income housing complex owned by his church. Warnock maintained that the allegations were false. When asked about personal integrity during a debate, he did not directly answer multiple questions about the issue.