Georgia has two contested Senate races in a rare twist. Both could be headed to a runoff. – USA TODAY

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Rebecca Morin
 
| USA TODAY

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Georgia has not one but two competitive U.S. Senate races playing out Tuesday.

Incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue faces off against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in the regularly scheduled Senate race. But in a rare event, there is also a special election to fill the seat vacated by Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned last year. 

Starting at 7 p.m. ET, polls began closing in the state. However, some counties and precincts have extended their voting hours, with some citing voting issues earlier in the day.

Polls show Perdue and Ossoff are in a dead heat, with some recent polls having Ossoff ahead by single digits. 

A Monmouth poll published last week showed Ossoff ahead of Perdue, 49% to 46%. If neither reaches 50% of the vote, the race heads to a runoff. The Ossoff lead comes after a September Monmouth poll showed him trailing Perdue by 5 points.

Ossoff previously ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017 in a special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, a race in the Atlanta suburbs where he broke fundraising records. Despite placing first during the special election, he failed to garner 50% of the vote and the race went to a runoff. Republican Karen Handel went on to win, but Ossoff earned himself national attention.

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Perdue, a businessman, is serving his first term in Congress.

The special election is a bit more complicated.

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed to her seat after Isakson resigned, but she was not who President Donald Trump wanted to hold the seat. That honor was bestowed upon Republican Rep. Doug Collins, who is now challenging Loeffler. On the Democratic side, you have Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Warnock has lead in recent polling. In the Monmouth poll last week, Warnock was at 41%, Loeffler was at 21% and Collins at 18%. But if no candidate reaches the 50% threshold, the race goes to a runoff in January — even if it ends up being two candidates from the same party.

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Both races are key for Democrats, who are trying to win back control of the Senate, which Republicans currently hold, 53-47. Democrats hold 45 seats, but Sens. Bernie Sanders and Angus King are independents but caucus with the Democrats.

If both races head to runoff, the balance of power in the Senate could be influx for weeks.

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