(CBS News) - Jon Ossoff will win his Georgia Senate runoff race, CBS News projects, beating incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue. Ossoff, 33, will be the youngest Democrat to serve in the U.S. Senate since President-elect Joe Biden, who assumed office in 1973 at the age of 30.
On Wednesday, Ossoff declared victory over his opponent, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, saying, “This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of this state, for all the people of this state, and they will be my guiding principles as I serve this state.”
“Everybody who cast your ballot, everybody who put your faith and confidence in democracy’s capacity to deliver the representation we deserve, whether you were for me or against me, I’ll be for you,” he said during his virtual speech.
The youngest currently serving Senator is 41-year-old Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri.
The youngest Senator ever to serve was John Henry Eaton of Tennessee, who was elected in 1818 at 28 years, 4 months, and 29 days old, according to the U.S. Senate.
The framers of the Constitution set the minimum age requirement for Senate service at 30 years old, but apparently, no one asked Eaton how old he was. Because of poor record keeping and large families during this year, Eaton himself might not have known his exact age, according to the Senate.
Other young senators had slipped through the cracks before him. Armistead Mason of Virginia took office in 1816 at 28 years, 5 months, and 18 days old. Before him, Henry Clay of Kentucky began serving in 1806 at 29 years old.
These under-30 senators are rare, especially since the Senate began paying closer to age and eligibility. In 1934, when Virginia Democrat Rush Holt was elected to the Senate at 29, he had to pledge that he would wait six months until he turned 30 to be sworn in. Holt’s opponent, Senator Henry Hatfield, argued his young age disqualified him, but the Senate rejected it, declaring Holt the fair winner.
The Senate decided the age requirement applies at the time of oath-taking, not the time of election, or the time the term begins.
When he was sworn in, Mr. Biden became the sixth youngest senator ever at 30 years, 1 month, and 14 days.
Shortly after his election in 1972, Mr. Biden’s wife and daughter died in a car accident. On January 5, 1973, he was sworn in as the U.S. senator from Delaware at the hospital bedside of his 3-year-old son, Beau, who was injured in that car accident.
Biden served as the U.S. Senator from Delaware until 2009, when he became President Barack Obama’s vice president, making him one of the longest-serving U.S. Senators.
Former Oklahoma Senator Don Nickels, a Republican, was the youngest senator since Biden when he was sworn in at 32 years old in 1981. He is the youngest Republican ever elected to the Senate.