In a runoff election to determine control of the U.S. Senate, Cherokee County voters turned out in large numbers and continued a longtime trend of strong support for Republican candidates.

However, statewide Democrat Raphael Warnock appears to have defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. The Associated Press and many other news outlets have declared him the winner. Several media outlets declared Democrat Jon Ossoff the winner Wednesday afternoon in Tuesday’s tight runoff contest against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue. Ossoff took 50.3% of the vote to 49.7% for Perdue, apparently just above the 0.5% margin of victory that under state law would have allowed Perdue to request a recount.

Republicans only had to win one of the two seats in the runoffs to maintain majority control of the chamber. If Ossoff holds on after all votes are counted, Democrats will control the Senate, the House and the White House when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20.

In Cherokee County, Perdue earned 90,146 votes (70.6%), compared to Ossoff’s 37,503 (29.3%). Loeffler received 89,346 votes (70%) to Warnock’s 38,274 (29.9%). In the PSC runoff, incumbent Laurent “Bubba” McDonald received 90,738 (71.9%) to Blackman’s 35,449 (28%). Turnout in Cherokee County was about 65% of registered voters.

Republicans have controlled both of Georgia’s Senate seats for 15 years, but the state has become increasingly competitive, and Biden defeated President Donald Trump here by a narrow margin — just under 12,000 votes — in November.

Incumbent Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, a Republican, held a 68,976 lead over Democrat Daniel Blackman.

Cherokee County voters encountered clear weather and mostly fast moving lines at voting precincts on Tuesday for the runoffs for U.S. Senate and a Public Service Commission seat.

More than 100 voters responding to a question from tribuneledgernews.com reported experiences that ranged from less than 10 minutes at many rural precincts up to 30 minutes or more at some city locations.

Two of the 40 local polling places stayed open a few minutes past 7 p.m. because of confusion over a report of a suspicious object at one Woodstock location.

A visitor to the polling station at Allen Temple AMC Church in Woodstock pointed out the object to a city police officer who quickly determined it was a spent fireworks casing, according to police Chief Calvin Moss. A veteran officer at the nearby Woodstock City Church polling station mentioned the incident to a poll manager before going outside to walk around the church.

Elections officials sought approval for 15 and 20 minute voting extensions respectively for the precincts thinking that traffic into the stations was briefly interrupted. But, traffic into the station was never stopped at either location, Moss said.

“It was a miscommunication apparently,” he said.

With the stakes so high, the two sides spent more than half a billion dollars on the two-month runoff campaign, and each race broke the record for spending in a Senate race. In both, the Democratic candidates raised considerably more money than the Republican incumbents, but spending by outside groups — mostly four super-PACs affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — gave the Republicans an overall advantage.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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