ATLANTA - Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock are headed to a Jan. 5 runoff in the special election for Loeffler's U.S. Senate seat. They're the top two finishers in a crowded field that also included Republican Rep. Doug Collins.
Collins conceded in a tweet Tuesday night, congratulating Loeffler on advancing to the runoff.
Neither Loeffler nor Warnock was able to get the 50% threshold to win outright. As of 11:45 p.m., Loeffler and Warnock were nearly tied, with Warnock holding a slight lead over the incumbent Republican.
Only one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats was supposed to be on the ballot this cycle. But Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement last year threw the future of his seat into contention.
Gov. Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler, another Republican, to fill his seat, beginning in January 2020. But the law called for a special election in November to determine who would serve the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.
Despite being the incumbent, Loeffler faced a tough path to victory, with Collins splitting the conservative vote.
With the conservative vote split, Warnock emerged as the Democratic frontrunner. Warnock is the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church once pastored by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In Georgia's second Senate race, GOP Sen. David Perdue is seeking a second term against Democrat John Ossoff. That race has not yet been called.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.