Obama says John Lewis 'smiling down' on Georgia after election of state's first Black senator
Posted January 6, 2021 2:27 p.m. EST
CNN — Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the late Rep. John Lewis is "smiling" down on Georgia after the historic election of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who will become the state's first Black senator.
"My friend John Lewis is surely smiling down on his beloved Georgia this morning, as people across the state carried forward the baton that he and so many others passed down to them," Obama said in a statement. "Georgia's first Black senator will make the chamber more reflective of our country as a whole and open the door for a Congress that can forego gridlock for gridlock's sake to focus instead on the many crises facing our nation—pandemic relief for struggling families, voting rights, protecting our planet, and more."
The senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Martin Luther King Jr.'s church, will be the first Black Democrat to represent a southern state in the Senate. He will be the 11th Black lawmaker to serve in the US Senate -- a group that includes Obama, who served as a US senator from Illinois, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a US senator from California.
CNN projected early Wednesday morning that Warnock beat incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, with Black voters in the Atlanta metro area, the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, and suburbs turning out to solidify his win. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is holding a narrow lead over incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue and declared victory Wednesday but CNN has not yet called the race.
Obama said although the runoff race between Ossoff and Perdue has not been called, Warnock's win along with President-elect Joe Biden's win in the Peach state "is a testament to the power of the tireless and often unheralded work" of grassroots organizing and credited the efforts of Stacey Abrams.
The 44th President recorded several ads and robocalls for the Georgia runoff races and also made an appearance at a virtual rally for both Democratic candidates in December.