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Mitch McConnell’s Senate leadership hinges on Ossoff vs


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Here’s what you need to know about one of the longest-running U.S. senators and Republican leaders, from his beginnings to his controversies. USA TODAY

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s hold on the Senate majority leader position is hanging by a thread this morning.

Tuesday’s high-stakes runoff elections in the Peach State pitted two Republicans — David Perdue and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler — against Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, with the GOP’s current control of the Senate — and McConnell’s role — hanging in the balance.

The Associated Press called the race for Warnock at 2 a.m. Wednesday. He received 50.6% of the vote.

As of 9 a.m., Ossoff was leading Perdue with 50.19% of the vote, though the race had not yet been called.

Warnock’s defeat of Loeffler and Ossoff’s potential victory would create a 50-50 split in the Senate in terms of the number of Democrat and Republican members.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will be inaugurated Jan. 20 alongside fellow Democrat and President-elect Joe Biden, would get the tie-breaking vote in the Senate and give her party the edge over the GOP.

More: Will Mitch McConnell still rule the Senate in 2021? Here are the possible scenarios

Georgia’s Senate runoffs: Warnock makes history with runoff win, Ossoff ahead

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., participates in a mock swearing-in as his wife Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao holds a Bible, in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., participates in a mock swearing-in as his wife Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao holds a Bible, in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP) (Photo: Kevin Dietsch, AP)

That would mean Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would swap jobs with McConnell — a development that’s sure to disappoint Kentucky’s longtime senator, who served as minority leader before he got the top job in 2015.

“I’ve been both, and I can tell you, the majority leader’s better,” McConnell told reporters last year. 

Two months ago, McConnell easily got reelected to the Kentucky Senate seat he’s held for 36 years when he trounced Democrat Amy McGrath by about 20% in the November election. 

As majority leader, McConnell has control over which legislation comes up for consideration in the Senate.

Warnock’s win and Ossoff’s potential victory would strip McConnell of the ability to single-handedly block bills from coming up for a vote in the Senate — a power he used often in recent years, prompting criticism over the “legislative graveyard” of proposals that effectively died on his desk.

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More politics: McConnell under pressure from other Republicans over $2,000 stimulus checks

This story will be updated.

Reach reporter Morgan Watkins: mwatkins@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @morganwatkins26

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