Georgia will hold two special elections Jan. 5, with the results ultimately determining which party will control the U.S. Senate.
In the southeastern state of Georgia, a political candidate in a primary or general election must earn more than 50% of the votes. If no one in the race meets that threshold, the top two vote-getters enter into a runoff election.
One runoff race features incumbent Sen. David Perdue, a Republican who received 49.7% of the vote on Nov. 3, and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, who received 47.9%.
The other runoff race is for a seat vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who received 25.9% of the vote on Nov. 3, will face the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who received 32.9%.
Republicans need to win just one of the elections to retain control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would then be needed to cast tie-breaking votes when needed.
Here is a look at the candidates:
Loeffler, 50, is the junior senator from Georgia and was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp after Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned due to poor health. She took office on Jan. 6, 2020. Before becoming a senator, Loeffler worked in the financial services sector. For the November election, she campaigned as a strong supporter of President Donald Trump. She was implicated in an insider trading scandal, allegedly selling stock in companies that would be harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate Ethics Committee cleared her of wrongdoing. She is the co-owner of the WNBA team the Atlanta Spirit.
Perdue, 70, is the senior senator from Georgia, taking his seat in January 2015. Most of his career has been spent in the private sector, where he was a senior vice president of Reebok, the CEO of a North Carolina textile business and CEO of Dollar General. He generally supported the policies of President Donald Trump but opposed him on tariffs. He was implicated in an insider trading scandal, allegedly selling stock in companies that would be harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate Ethics Committee cleared him of wrongdoing.
Ossoff, 33, is running for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia against incumbent David Perdue. In 2017, Ossoff ran for Congress from Georgia’s 6th Congressional District but lost. Before running for office, he was an investigative journalist and a congressional staffer. A sharp critic of President Donald Trump, Ossoff is portrayed as a progressive on some issues such as health care and guns but moderate on the economy and national security. He supports statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Warnock, 51, is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia against incumbent Kelly Loeffler. Warnock is an ordained minister and since 2005 has been the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He has also been involved in politics, trying to expand Medicaid, a policy he continues to promote. From 2017 to 2020, he also worked to expand voter registration in Georgia. Warnock has come under criticism for some controversial comments made years ago during sermons, such as “nobody can serve God and the military.” He defended the comment, saying, “What I was expressing was … that as a person of faith my ultimate allegiance is to God.”