By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO
Raphael Warnock, winner of the Jan. 5 special U.S. Senate election in Georgia, overcame nakedly racist and undemocratic attempts to steal votes from a rainbow coalition of Black, Brown, Yellow, and progressive White voters.
Warnock unseated Kelly Loffler, Republican and billionaire who was not elected to the office, but appointed a year ago by the governor. Loffler’s greatest asset was she was a 100% supporter of Donald Trump’s policies. Yeah, that guy who was caught on tape Jan. 3 before the election attempting to shake down Georgia Republican officials for votes for his failed presidential re-election.
But this day should be a celebration of Rev. Warnock’s win. He is a drum major for justice, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said. Both ministers are Morehouse College men who anchored Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist church. Warnock also honed his theological craft at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, the home of Rev. Calvin Butts and before him U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who was also pastor.
Continue celebrating. Elite HBCU schools Morehouse and Spelman colleges and Howard University, because of the glass-ceiling shattering of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the relentless voter registration and voter protection of Stacey Abrams, and Warnock’s victory raise the profiles of these can-do historically Black institutions.
In addition to Warnock, Jon Ossoff led GOP incumbent David Purdue. There will be a recount to verify who actually won. Perdue is the senior U.S. senator who voluntarily avoided a debate with the Democratic challenger, so Ossoff debated an empty podium on public TV. Later, Perdue was involuntarily sidelined because of Covid-19.
Ossoff, 33, is a filmmaker, journalist and a former congressional staffer.
Warnock is an accidental winner. He was a long-shot candidate who benefitted from GOP hubris. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, the whinny “character witness” of impeached president Trump, challenged Kelly Loeffler. Because no candidate last January received the needed 50% minimum votes according to Georgia law, a head-to-head runoff between Loeffler and Warnock was forced, with Collins kicked to the curb.
Five million Georgians voted in November election, Brad Raffenberger, embattled secretary of state, told CNN at midnight, adding that 4.5 million people voted in the Jan. 5 special election, remarkable because conventional wisdom was many people would stay home. Congrats to those, win or lose, who showed up to vote.
Congratulations Warnock and Ossoff. Congratulations especially to the voters who stayed alert and showed up to vote, after previously voting in the November election that shocked America and the world.
Trump and his cronies, including Loeffler and Purdue, would not address this paradox:
if No. 45 really was cheated out of re-election, why did Republicans on the same ballots do so well in House and Senate races? If the Republicans were so successful, why did their boy at the top fail? And now, #45 has appeared to have sabotaged Loeffler and Purdue, who were on the verge of beating a pair of long-shot Democratic challengers.
Trump attacked Republican officials in Georgia for running elections fairly, win or lose, and No. 45 attacked the integrity of the election process, which may have made enough Republicans stay home in disgust. Furthermore, Trump undermined the GOP’s argument that they needed Loeffler and Purdue elected in order to control the Senate and prevent Democrats from having all of the levers of power, executive, legislative [House and Senate] and judiciary [example, Supreme Court.]
One party rule causes overreach? Well Trump held all the levers from January 2017 to January 2019 and for the most part he squandered the enormous power in his hands.
So, Trump is the art of the deal-maker?
Naw, he is not. No. 45 played himself, and also played his sycophants.
Celebrate and now get to work. Four years of political darkness has slowed its relentless assault, but the real challenge of governing effectively and compassionately is about to begin. Warnock, Ossoff, Harris, Joe Biden and friends, lead the way.
Dawkins is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.
Listen to what voters said about the special election
Wanda Lloyd, Savannah: Yes, I voted. Two days after we (husband and me) received our absentee ballots in the mail, we hand-delivered them back to the election center. No trust of mail service. Everybody I know personally voted early, one way or another.
Horace Shuman, Atlanta: Yes, I voted. Did early voting, in person. No long line, in and out. Why is this election important? That Georgia has two Democratic U.S. senators, specifically Democrat challenger Raphael Warnock removing unelected and appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler.
Olive D Wheatley, Stone Mountain: Yes, I voted. I did early voting. I’ve worked polls at my church since 1996. I would hand my ballot to officials. What’s notable? Mere fact that Blacks were coming in and voting Republican. You could see the look on their faces. They were looking at me and wondering what I am thinking, but as an official I kept a straight face.
I am OK with what’s going on. Because when we moved here, it was mostly Ku Klux Klan territory. I saw them at a meeting. Our children were petrified. They wanted to go back to New York. But us Jamaicans started to change the area.
They KKK left. And this time my husband voted in the November election, for Biden.
— Morgan State student writer Cheyenne Briggs contributed additional reporting.
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