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Raphael Warnock promises to 'center the concerns of ordinary people' in Senate

The senator-elect spoke to 11Alive Anchor Cheryl Preheim the morning of his election victory on Wednesday.

ATLANTA — Senator-elect Raphael Warnock vowed Wednesday to "center the concerns of ordinary people" with his policies when he joins the U.S. Senate.

Warnock, the Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor, has been projected to win his race against Sen. Kelly Loeffler. He will fill the remaining two years of former Sen. Johnny Isakson's term.

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In an interview this morning with 11Alive Anchor Cheryl Preheim, Warnock said he would "bring a kind of sensitivity and sensibility" in office to the daily realities of regular Georgians.

Warnock himself grew up in public housing in Savannah, his father a veteran and preacher while his mother picked cotton and tobacco in the summers.

The reverend said his priorities as a lawmaker would reflect working class needs.

"I think that the people of Georgia stood up last night," Warnock said. "I know that we're living in an intense political period but when I talk to ordinary people - who are trying to figure out how to stay in their homes, they're trying to figure out whether or not they're gonna be able to keep their healthcare because they have a preexisting condition, they too often are having to decide between prescription drugs and buying food - and I don’t think they look at those issues through the lens of red and blue. These are issues of right and wrong, not so much right-left."

He endorsed a stimulus measure that would send $2,000 checks to Americans, and said it was important to improve access to affordable healthcare as well as better distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

"We've got to get serious about this COVID-19 challenge," he said.

He also criticized the upcoming objections that will be lodged against the counting of the Electoral College votes in Washington - something his opponent, Sen. Loeffler, endorsed and is in the nation's capital to join in doing.

He called it "cynical" and offered a vision for his preferred style of political engagement.

RELATED: Raphael Warnock projected to become Georgia's first Black U.S. senator with victory

"I think the people of Georgia took an important step last night... I think they rebuked the kind of cynical exercise of political power that we will witness later today," he said. "And I think that the way to undo this is for the people to keep standing up... I think the only way to save our democracy is for the people to rise up, which is why I as a pastor, not a career politician, decided to get in this race.

"Too often I've seen politics being centered around the politicians - that we have politicians who are so focused on the next election that they're not thinking about the next generation. That’s what's driving this challenge to the Electoral College today. They know where this ends up. But it's political ambition, it's centering of one's own interests that’s driving this."

He said that he would be "putting my work boots on," a reference to when his father would wake him up early in the morning, whether or not something was going on, to make him ready for whatever the day would bring, and work for ordinary people.

"I can't wait to get to Washington to stand up for them," Warnock said.