Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her Democratic opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock debate Sunday.
Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her Democratic opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock debate Sunday. Ben Gray/Pool/AP

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her Democratic opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock traded sharp attacks during a debate Sunday evening ahead of a pivotal runoff election next month.

The outcome of their race, along with the result of a second Georgia runoff in January between incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue and his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, will determine control of the Senate in the new Congress.

If either Republican incumbent holds onto their seat, the GOP will be poised to maintain its Senate majority. But if both Democrats win, it would bring the balance of power to 50-50 in the upper chamber with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to step in and cast tie breaking votes.

If you missed last night’s debate, here are some takeaways:

Loeffler dodges on Trump’s baseless election claims

Loeffler was asked repeatedly during the debate to weigh in on President Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged and did not directly answer questions on several occasions.

The Georgia senator did not explicitly say that she believes the presidential election was rigged when asked, but did say “it’s very clear that there were issues in this election.”

Loeffler said Trump has “every right to every legal recourse,” when asked if she stands by the President’s baseless narrative about the election, and then attempted to turn attention to her own Senate race.

Warnock sidesteps on Supreme Court answer and Covid-19 relief cost

Warnock was questioned during the debate about what topline number for total cost he would support for a new Covid relief package in Congress, as lawmakers in Washington are searching for a deal to pass such a proposal before the end of the year.

When asked to specify a number, he sidestepped, saying, “Look, I think that we should at least make sure that whatever we do, workers are at the center of that relief.”

The Democratic challenger also sidestepped when asked whether he supports expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court to offset recent appointments to the bench from Trump and whether he thinks there should be term limits for justices.

Both candidates portray opponent as out of touch with voters

The debate featured pointed lines of attack traded between the two candidates who both attempted to make the case that their opponent is out of touch with voters.

Loeffler repeatedly referred to her Democratic opponent as a “radical liberal” — unwaveringly sticking to talking points to portray Warnock as extremely far left.

Warnock, for his part, targeted the GOP senator over stock transactions that have been the subject of intense scrutiny for their timing related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more takeaways here.

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