Kelly wins in Arizona, pushing Democrats closer to keeping Senate

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Sen. Mark Kelly (D) is poised on Friday to win re-election in Arizona over Republican Blake Masters, boosting the Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the Senate for two more years.

The victory gave Democrats 49 Senate seats, just short of the 50 they needed to control the chamber, which Vice President Harris had the power to break ties. Republicans, who still won 49 seats, must now flip seats in Nevada and Georgia to retain control of the House.

While Georgia’s race won’t be decided until December, Democrats are wary of the possibility that they can make the majority sooner because more ballots are being counted in Nevada’s election. compete tightly.

Democratic control of the Senate will provide Biden with some leverage for his agenda on Capitol Hill, regardless of the outcome in the House, which is still in turmoil on Friday. Republican control of the Senate will make Biden’s process more difficult for the next two years, leaving the GOP to slow or block the confirmation of Biden’s administration and judges.

Republicans entered the midterm elections needing to gain just one seat to retain control of the upper house of Congress, which was evenly divided this year. Their chances of victory narrowed on election night as Democrats shifted key seats in Pennsylvania, with Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) beat celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, another Republican presidential candidate backed by former President Donald Trump in the primary. .

The Arizona race is one of the hottest races of the year. Kelly, a former astronaut, won Masters, a venture capitalist, after an expensive race in which the Democrat pitched himself as a moderate who would work in the aisle. Some Republicans are worried about their chances in the bloody state this fall as Democrats fight them and hold a significant lead with the Democrats. But the polls showed that the race was tight going into the final round.

Kelly led by nearly six percent with more than 80 percent of the ballots counted late Friday.

Arizona once appeared to be the preserve of the GOP, especially with high inflation and the state’s influence on Biden’s border policy. Masters sought to cast Kelly as a rubber stamp for Biden. But like many other races this year, Democrats have benefited despite the political disruption, highlighting their opponent’s fierceness and anger over abortion bans. new release that follows the last one. For v. Wade.

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Masters won the election with the endorsement of Trump and $15 million in support from technology expert Peter Thiel, a friend and mentor. He told the former president false statements about the 2020 election in the campaign, saying that Trump won. A first-time candidate, Masters quickly became frustrated within the GOP that their opponents in the primary race were underperforming.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a group affiliated with Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), began pulling out of the race weeks after the first – although other GOP groups eventually helped Masters compete on the air with Kelly, one of the Senate’s best fundraiser. .

Masters criticized McConnell during the primary and repeated the criticism this week, calling McConnell and the Republican establishment “incompetent” at Fox News.

“If he had chosen to spend the money in Arizona, this race would have been over,” Masters said. “We will celebrate the Senate majority now.”

Masters gave Democrats an opening during the summer debate when it came to the Social Security market. The Democrats also spent a lot of money to highlight his revolutionary message on abortion, as he backed away from calls for “government laws” in international polls and endorsed the country’s ban on abortion. allow abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Kelly’s campaign had already developed and tested negative ads against Masters before Aug. 3, an aide to Kelly said, and found the most powerful ads used Masters’ own ads. language, especially abortion and Social Security. In August, when Masters had limited resources and the Republican party had few television specials supporting him, Kelly’s campaign used the vacuum to increase its television budget.

Internally, this strategy has become known as “surge” – a bet that the use of early capital will be necessary because it will help define the Masters for the electorate.

In Kelly’s polls conducted between July and September, Masters’ unfavorable rating jumped from 35 percent to 48 percent, said aides. , who spoke on the condition of anonymity to explain the privacy decision. Masters himself identified the Democratic strategy, saying on the radio on August 19: “They’re trying to nuke me, you know, they’re trying to kill the baby in the crib here.”

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Meanwhile, Kelly’s announcement aimed to promote his brand as a liberal Democrat and sought to distance himself from Biden on the border issue. His first post addressed the economic hardships created by inflation by telling the story of his upbringing as the son of two police officers.

“From day one, this campaign has been about the many Arizonans — Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — who believe in working together to solve the critical issues we face,” Kelly said in a statement to on Friday after the race call.

Masters’ campaign did not comment on Friday night when asked if it would be confirmed.

The fundraiser from Masters’ campaign on Thursday did not allege impropriety but argued that “some of the issues we’ve seen happen during this election are problematic.” He added, “We hope there will be a competitive way forward and a legal battle to come.”

In an appearance Friday night on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, Masters went further, alleging there was no evidence that Maricopa County, home to more than half of Arizona’s voters , has “mixed” the ballots twice. A press release did not respond to a request for evidence behind the claims, and a city spokeswoman also did not immediately respond.

In Georgia, Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) ran slightly ahead of Republican nominee Herschel Walker, a former football player. But no candidate met the 50 percent threshold needed to defend the race.

Also in Arizona, Democrat Adrian Fontes is poised to win the race for secretary of state, defeating Republican Mark Finchem, a state legislator seeking oversight of Arizona’s elections. while not being able to push to deny the benefits from 2020.

Finchem is one of several GOP nominees for secretary of state who has challenged Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was rigged. If elected, he would have been the top candidate for the state’s battleground state in 2024. The secretary of state confirmed the statewide results.

“We know that Republicans and libertarians love the truth,” Fontes said in an interview moments after he was called. “We know they don’t like lies. What he is saying is that freedom, at least for the time being, will survive in this country. “

In Nevada, where votes are still being counted, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) narrowly trailed GOP candidate Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general, on Friday. But Democrats see encouraging signs that ballots sent from local counties will capture him.

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While the Republicans have long wanted to take back the House, a goal they have not yet won, they are facing a more uncertain fight for the Senate. Republicans held onto seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin in Tuesday’s election, while Democratic leaders won in Colorado, New Hampshire and Washington state.

The GOP needs to net just five seats for a majority in the House and has expressed confidence that they will win there. But their results so far have fallen short of the red wave, paving the way for the narrow majority whose leaders will need more support from the coalition. who are often reluctant to carry out their procedures.

Republican Joe Lombardo is also poised to unseat Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in Nevada on Friday, giving the GOP their first vote in the governor’s race.

In a statement released before the campaign called Friday night, Sisolak said that it “looks like we will fall short of the percentage” or short of victory and that he believes “our election , in freedom and respect for the will of Nevada voters.” He noted the struggles of the past four years — including the epidemic and inflation — and said he reached out to Lombardo for his success.

During the campaign, Lombardo, the sheriff of Clark County – which includes Las Vegas – criticized Sisolak’s handling of crime, education and the spread of the coronavirus. He said he would be “president for life” but seek to solve the problem and said he would follow “the voters,” as Sisolak accused him of changing the job out of order convenience of politics.

“Our victory is a victory for all Nevadans who want our state back,” Lombardo said in a statement released Friday night. “It’s a win for small business owners, for parents, for students, and for law enforcement.”

Lombardo’s victory was the first GOP presidential pick in a year when many independents defied GOP hopes of a red wave, winning in tight races in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas and Oregon, where the Democratic candidate split the Democratic vote.

Stanley-Becker reports from Arizona. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez in Arizona contributed to this report.

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