Atlanta Dream co-owner and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is headed to a special U.S. Senate election runoff vote after neither Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock nor Loeffler nor Republican challenger Doug Collins cleared the state's 50% threshold for victory on Tuesday night.
Loeffler has been in the Senate seat since December 2019, when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her to the U.S. Senate following Republican Johnny Isakson's retirement.
In recent months, Loeffler has been the target of heavy public criticism from the WNBA community. Players have been pushing since July for Loeffler, who owns a 49% stake in the Dream, to be removed from the league's ownership ranks.
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This summer, ahead of the start of the WNBA season, Loeffler wrote a letter to commissioner Cathy Engelbert objecting to the WNBA’s plans to embrace and promote the Black Lives Matter movement.
The letter read in part, “The truth is, we need less—not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote.” She also called for U.S. flags on jerseys.
Loeffler also recently introduced a bill that would effectively ban trans girls and women from playing publicly funded sports, potentially affecting thousands of youth, high school and collegiate athletes nationwide.
"She’s got to go,” Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, who took the 2020 season off to focus on social justice efforts, told Sports Illustrated's Julie Kliegman. “It’s very plain and simple.”
Following the letter, the WNBPA called for Loeffler’s removal from the league in a tweet: “E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!” Days later, Dream players, led by center/forward Elizabeth Williams, shared a signed statement from the franchise account, writing in part that, “Our team is unified in the Movement for Black Lives.”
On Aug. 4 and 5, players from around the league wore black T-shirts reading "VOTE WARNOCK" to their games.
The runoff election is on Jan. 5.