Senator-elect Reverend Raphael Warnock is “very grateful” to the people of Georgia, who he said “sent a strong and clear message” by handing him a win over incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler in one of two state runoff elections Tuesday.
“They sent a person who grew up in public housing, one of 12 children in my family — I’m the first college graduate — that I am serving in the United States Senate in a few days, pushes against the grain of so many expectations,” he said on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.
Warnock said he hoped “some young person” would be inspired by his historic victory.
The Georgia Democrat will be the first Black senator to represent his state. Incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler, an ally of President Trump, was appointed to the seat in 2019 after former Senator Johnny Isakson resigned due to health reasons.
Both Loeffler and fellow incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue have faced accusations of insider trading and profiting off of the coronavirus pandemic. Both were cleared of any charges.
Warnock said Loeffler had not yet called him to concede, but called for unity — particularly in Congress — amid partisan divisions over the legitimacy of the presidential election.
“We really cannot afford to be divided, the problems that face us as a country are large,” Warnock said. “They are not insurmountable but they are insurmountable if we don’t come together, push past the forces of division and distraction that are going on right now.”
He credited a fellow Georgia Democrat, the late Rep. John Lewis, as an example that should be followed “in this dark moment in America.”
“Somehow I feel him and other ancestors ushering us along,” he said.
As an Atlanta resident, Lewis had attended Warnock’s church — the same one where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. The reverend spoke at Lewis’ funeral there on July 30.
During his tenure in the House of Representatives Lewis was known as the “conscience of Congress.”
Warnock said he had been “thinking a lot” about the civil rights giant, who he said could “bring people together across racial lines, across partisan lines.”
“His was a kind of moral authority that was immersed in the struggle of a people who never lost hope and always kept the faith,” he said.
Asked if he would continue preaching even after his term as a senator begins, Warnock said he “absolutely” would.
“The last thing I want to do is spend all of my time only talking to politicians. I’m afraid that I might accidentally become one,” he said. “I intend to be a public servant, so I’m going to stay connected to my church and larger community.”
Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock on his historic Senate win The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ CBS News.