With a narrow lead in his critical Senate race, the Rev. Raphael Warnock promised Georgia voters early Wednesday that he would work on their behalf in the Senate, even though the race had not been officially called in his favor.
“We were told that we couldn’t win this election,” said Mr. Warnock, who was leading the Republican incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, by roughly 35,000 votes with about 97 percent of the ballots already counted. “But tonight, we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.”
Mr. Warnock, the pastor at the storied Ebenezer Baptist Church, declared that he “was going to the Senate” to work for all Georgians, though the race has not been decided.
During brief remarks, he recalled his family’s roots in Georgia, noting that he had grown up in Savannah’s housing projects and graduated from Morehouse College. He spoke of his parents, including his mother, who he said “used to pick somebody else’s cotton” as a teenager.
“But the other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator,” he said.
If he ultimately wins his race, Mr. Warnock would become the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South.
“May my story be an inspiration to some young person who is trying to grasp and grab hold of the American dream.”
“Georgia,” he added, “I am honored by the faith that you have shown in me.”
Speaking around the same time, Ms. Loeffler thanked her supporters and said: “We’re going to win this election.” Still, she acknowledged that the contest was “a game of inches” and that there was still “work to do.”
Mr. Warnock’s race is occurring alongside another tight Senate contest that has yet to be called. That race, between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, as of early Wednesday was a virtual tie.
In a statement early Wednesday, Mr. Ossoff’s campaign manager, Ellen Foster, said that “when all the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election.”
If Democrats manage to win both races, they will take control of the Senate, clearing the way to more easily enact President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda.