Wednesday News: One down, one to go

WARNOCK DEFEATS LOEFFLER IN GEORGIA U.S. SENATE RUNOFF: A pastor who spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Raphael Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. It was a stinging rebuke of outgoing President Donald Trump, who made one of his final trips in office to Georgia to rally his loyal base behind Loeffler and the Republican running for the other seat, David Perdue. The focus now shifts to the second race between Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff. The candidates were locked in a tight race and it was too early to call a winner. Under Georgia law, a trailing candidate may request a recount when the margin of an election is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points. If Ossoff wins, Democrats will have complete control of Congress, strengthening President-elect Joe Biden’s standing as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20.

TWO MORE NC REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN TO OBJECT TO BIDEN'S LANDSLIDE VICTORY: More than half of North Carolina’s eight Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to object Wednesday to election results showing Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Reps. Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop announced Tuesday, the day before the joint session in Congress to count the Electoral College votes, that they plan to join in objecting to certification of certain states. Four other members of the state’s House delegation — Reps. Madison Cawthorn, Ted Budd, Richard Hudson and David Rouzer — previously announced they would object to certification. President Donald Trump has been calling for Republicans to overturn the election results, which have been certified in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. The other two Republicans in North Carolina’s 13-member delegation — Reps. Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry — have not made their intentions public. Foxx told reporters on Capitol Hill earlier this week that she was “considering” what to do.

HALF OF NC'S LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS ARE REFUSING VACCINE, NATIONAL GUARD ACTIVATED: Cohen noted that vaccine hesitancy among long-term care staff is “concerning,” given the anecdotal reports the state has gathered thus far. North Carolina is working with Walgreens and CVS, which are responsible for vaccinating residents and workers in long-term care settings, to access and report concrete data. She believes North Carolina is experiencing something similar to an estimate Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made last week noting that about 60% of staff in long-term care settings have refused vaccination. “I caution it’s anecdotal, but we are definitely hearing that more than half (are) declining (the vaccine), and that is concerning,” Cohen said. According to the state's COVID dashboard, nearly 166,000 vaccine doses were allocated to long-term care facilities in the state, as of Monday. Of those, 13,338 doses had been administered. Cohen said some of the National Guard members will serve as vaccinators, while others will assist local health departments with logistical processes of checking people into sites and ensuring they remain masked and physically distant from one another.

OSSOFF HAS A 16,000 VOTE LEAD OVER PERDUE, WHO REFUSES TO CONCEDE: Ossoff’s campaign manager, Ellen Foster, issued a statement early Wednesday expressing confidence that he would win because of the location of the uncounted ballots. “We look forward to seeing the process through in the coming hours and moving ahead so Jon can start fighting for all Georgians in the U.S. Senate,” she said. As Democrats gained in the vote counts late into the night, Republicans indicated that they were not ready to concede. Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue (who is also serving in Trump's Cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture, making his behavior here a stunning violation of the Hatch Act), speaking on behalf of his cousin, David Perdue, who did not appear, also said the fight would continue in the morning. “We’re not going to know tonight,” Sonny Perdue said. Watching from the White House, Trump live-tweeted the results, repeatedly suggesting that the votes that favored Democrats were somehow fraudulent, although he presented no evidence. “Just happened to have found another 4000 ballots from Fulton County. Here we go!” he wrote in one tweet, which was flagged by Twitter for sharing “disputed” information. “This is history unfolding in Georgia right now,” Ossoff said in a Tuesday morning appearance at a polling site in Atlanta. “Georgia voters have never had more power than you have today. That is the reason the whole world is watching us.”

AS CONGRESS BEGINS ELECTION CERTIFICATION, TRUMP HOLDS BROWN-SHIRT RALLY BEHIND WHITE HOUSE: Thousands of Trump supporters are expected to gather Wednesday in the nation’s capital to hear a defeated president and his allies amplify false claims of election fraud during a rally steps from the White House. Local authorities have enhanced security and warned residents in and around the city to steer clear of potentially violent agitators. The scene taking shape on the grassy elliptical park just behind the White House is extraordinary. A grand bandstand was erected, huge speakers were attached to tall scaffolding, and thousands of chairs were unfolded on muddy grass ahead of rallies to proclaim victory for a president who lost soundly in November. President Trump will be leaving office in two weeks, all protests aside. But he plans to make an appearance on Wednesday at one of the events near the White House that he has promoted relentlessly for weeks as a show of force as he struggles to overturn the legitimate election results. By Tuesday night, the Metropolitan Police Department recorded arrests of five people on charges of assault and weapons possession, including one person who was charged with assaulting a police officer. Organizers were preparing for an expected crowd of 5,000 on Tuesday and more than 30,000 throughout the week, according to permits issued by the National Park Service. Local government officials warned that the events could turn tumultuous. Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington requested assistance from the Army National Guard on Monday, and the local police warned that anyone who intended to arrive in Washington with a firearm, as some on social media sites promised to do, would be arrested.