With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, Republicans and Democrats have already started pouring money into a pair of high-stakes January Senate runoffs in Georgia, setting them up to become two of the most expensive races in history.
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The parties are expected to spend an exorbitant amount in the coming weeks as the state's two Senate races — one between GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock and the other between GOP Sen. David Perdue and Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff — head to a Jan. 5 runoff election.
One report estimated that spending on both races could exceed $200 million, shattering previous records. Money is already flooding into the races: In the past two days, voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams raised more than $3.6 million for the contests.
"We will have the investment and the resources that have never followed our runoffs in Georgia for Democrats," Abrams said. "This is going to be the determining factor of whether we have access to health care and access to justice in the United States. Those are two issues that will make certain that people turn out."
The Peach State already saw an influx of campaign spending this year in both Senate races and the surprisingly competitive presidential election. (As of Monday morning, with 99% of the ballots counted, President-elect Joe Biden had received about 10,000 more votes than incumbent President Trump. State election officials said last week they are planning a recount.)
The races were among the most expensive in the country; counting outside spending, more than $67.5 million was spent to help Perdue, while $38.1 million was spent for Ossoff, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Loeffler, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, raised $28.2 million, primarily through self-financing. Warnock, a minister, raised about $21.7 million, boosted by out-of-state donors, who accounted for about 80% of his funds, according to the Center.
Under Georgia law, candidates must receive a majority of the vote to win an election. if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, the top two finishers head to another faceoff.
Republicans hold a slim 53-47 Senate majority, but after Tuesday's election, the parties are tied 48 to 48. GOP candidates are expected to win in yet-to-be-called races in North Carolina and Alaska, putting them at 50 seats. That means Democrat would need to win both runoffs in Georgia to secure a 50-50 tie. In that scenario, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could cast a tie-breaking vote to move the Democratic agenda forward.