A Georgia election official said early Wednesday that it is likely there will be a Senate runoff election slated for December between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and GOP challenger and former NFL star Herschel Walker.
“While county officials are still doing the detailed work on counting the votes, we feel it is safe to say there will be a runoff for the U.S. Senate here in Georgia slated for December 6,” Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia secretary of state’s chief operating officer, wrote on Twitter.
Warnock appeared to hold a slim lead over Walker with around 98 percent of the vote counted. Warnock, however, did not reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in the state. No election forecasters, including The Associated Press, have called the race.
Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver garnered about 2.1 percent of the vote. If the Georgia Senate race heads to a runoff, only Walker and Warnock would remain on the ballot—and Oliver would be removed.
“We’re not sure if this journey is over tonight or if there’s still a little work yet to do,” Warnock told reporters on Wednesday. “I understand that at this late hour you may be a little tired,” the senator added, “but whether it’s later tonight or tomorrow or four weeks from now, we will hear from the people of Georgia.”
Walker, meanwhile, appeared to be more optimistic. “I don’t come to lose,” Walker said, according to AP.
A runoff campaign would be a four-week blitz that, depending on the outcomes in other Senate contests, could reprise the 2020 election cycle, when two Senate runoffs in Georgia doubled as a national winner-take-all battle for Senate control. Victories from Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) left the chamber divided 50–50 between the two major parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the tie-breaking vote.