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Democratic US Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia beat back a challenge from Republican former NFL star Herschel Walker to win Tuesday’s runoff election for Senate, according to projections.

Warnock, 53, defeated his Republican rival, 60, to score a full six-year term after winning a special election in January 2021 — with Tuesday’s victory expanding the Dems’ control of the Senate to 51-49.  

With the race called Tuesday night by several media outlets, including NBC and CNN, Warnock held a razor-thin 50.4% to 49.6% lead with about 94% of the vote counted.

Warnock had won a partial Senate term in January 2021 when he defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffer, who had been appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of ailing then-Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson at the end of 2019.

The runoff for the full term was forced after neither Warnock nor Walker received more than 50% of the vote in the Nov. 8 midterm election. 

Senator Raphael Warnock
The runoff election was forced after neither Warnock nor Walker received more than 50% of the vote Nov. 8.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The intense run-off brought out some of the biggest political guns on both sides, with former President Trump and Republican senators such as Lindsey Graham lining up behind Walker, while ex-President Obama and President Biden rallied for Warnock.

Walker and Warnock remained close in the polls, but the ex-grid great began to fall behind after Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated GOP candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in November, flipping a Republican-held seat in that state and preserving the Senate’s razor-thin Democratic majority.

Democrats currently control the 50-50 Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie breaking vote. 

Raphael Warnock supporters
Raphael Warnock supporters cheer Tuesday evening for the senator’s victory over Herschel Walker.

Georgia runoff
The run-off brought out some of the biggest politicians to vocalize who they think was the best fit.

supporters
Warnock got a boost in votes from the Obamas endorsing him.

Raphael Warnock.
Warnock shattered early voting records leading up to Tuesday. 
Getty Images

Warnock got a boost in the closing days of his campaign from Obama, and former first lady Michelle Obama appeared in a number of ads for the Democrat. 

Warnock also appeared to benefit from a surge in early voting, especially in Democratic strongholds, that shattered single-day records leading up to Tuesday. 

At the same time, Walker often struggled to overcome allegations by a pair of women who accused him of paying them to have abortions despite his pro-life stance and questions about his fitness to serve in the Senate. 

Walker denied the claims.

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