The Georgia Senate runoff is over. Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, to become Georgia’s first Black senator.
The special election was called early Wednesday after Warnock recorded 46,000 more votes than Loeffler, who criticized the WNBA's support of the Black Lives Matter movement back in July in an open letter to Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Loeffler said she opposed to the movement "due to its radical ideas and Marxist foundations, which include defunding the police and eroding the nuclear family."
WNBA players, including many Seattle Storm players, fought back. Players began donning “VOTE WARNOCK” t-shirts in support of her Democratic challenger.
Their voices proved to be as powerful and efforts paid off on Wednesday with Loeffler falling in Georgia, giving Democrats an additional seat in the upper chamber.
“Winning is cool, but have you ever flipped the senate,” Storm forward Breanna Stewart tweeted. “@WNBA @TheWNBA s/o to all the incredible women who represent the W. Big time congrats @ReverendWarnock. We are on the right side of history!!”
17-year veteran Storm guard Sue Bird has been at the forefront of the “Vote Warnock” movement. She came up with the idea to oppose Loeffler with t-shirts over the summer.
“This was a situation where given what was said in regards to the owner of Atlanta, and how, basically, she came out against a lot of what the women in our league stand for, I think was emotionally tough for a lot of the women in our league to hear that,” Bird told ESPN. “But very quickly we started to realize that this was only happening for her political gain. This was something that she wanted. And the more noise we made, whether it was a tweet saying to get her out, that was just playing into her hands.
“I’m not some political strategist, but what I do know is that voting is important. And I think our league has always encouraged people to use their voices and to get out and vote.
“So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in Senate. And, if he’s in Senate, you know who’s not. And I’ll just leave it at that.”
Bird shared a number of posts on Wednesday after Loeffler was ousted, including many photos sporting the black t-shirts in support of Warnock and the BLM movement.
Bird's fiancée, USWNT star and OL Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe vocalized her support for the WNBA’s hard-fought stance and praised Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, for mobilizing funds and support for the Jan. 5 elections.
LeBron James wants to send Loeffler off with another L Wednesday. The four-time NBA champion took a shot at the controversial Dream co-owner offering to form an ownership group to purchase the team.
“Whose in?” James said.
While some much-needed change is coming to Georgia, the Senate runoff election is not over yet. Democrat Jon Ossoff holds a narrow lead over Republican David Perdue. On Wednesday morning, it was reported Ossoff had a 16,000-vote lead over Perdue, whose term ended Sunday. A win by Ossoff would give the Democrats party control of the upper chamber.