Democrats win control of US Senate with victory in Nevada
PHOENIX, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate next year after Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election in Nevada, Edison Research predicted on Saturday, handing a major victory to President Joe Biden.
Still, Republicans remained close to winning control of the US House of Representatives as officials continued to count ballots in Tuesday’s US midterm elections.
Cortez Masto narrowly defeated Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
With Mast’s victory after Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly won re-election in Arizona late Friday, Democrats will control at least 50 Senate seats and Vice President Kamala Harris will be able to break ties in the 100-member chamber.
The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. The newly elected Senate will be sworn in on January 3.
If Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock wins a Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia against Republican candidate Herschel Walker, it would increase the Democratic majority to 51-49. That, in turn, would give Democrats an added advantage in passing a limited number of controversial bills that are allowed to advance with a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 required for most bills.
Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are the voices that have blocked or delayed some of Biden’s major initiatives, including the expansion of some social programs.
But with 51 Democratic seats in the upcoming Congress, Manchin and Sinema’s influence would be somewhat diluted.
It was still not known which party would hold the majority in the US House of Representatives for the next two years. Republicans still held the lead, but returnees continued to pour in for several races, including many in liberal-leaning California.
Democrats scored a major upset on Saturday with a projected victory in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, where Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez defeated Trump-backed Joe Kent.
It could be a few days or more before the results of enough House races are known to determine the party’s control of the 435-seat chamber.
Democrats received a significant boost late Friday when Kelly, a Democratic senator from Arizona, was predicted to retain his seat, defeating Republican Blake Masters, who like Laxalt was endorsed by Trump. Masters did not concede the race.
Kelly, a former fighter pilot and Navy astronaut, gave a brief victory speech to supporters in Phoenix on Saturday with his wife, former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords. His remarks were aimed at working in Congress in a bipartisan manner.
Kelly did not mention Masters, but said: “We have seen the consequences that come when leaders refuse to accept the truth and focus more on the conspiracies of the past than on solving the challenges we face today.”
In the midterm elections, many Republican candidates, including Masters, repeated former President Trump’s false claim that he lost the 2020 election to Biden due to massive voter fraud.
In Nevada, where officials in Clark County were processing mail-in and drop-box ballots, County Registrar Joe Gloria said no candidates had brought allegations of fraud to his office.
“We have not heard anything from any campaign regarding fraud or questioning” of the process or the results, he said at a news conference.
No winner has yet been determined in the Arizona governor’s race, where Democrat Katie Hobbs holds a narrow lead over Republican Kari Lake. In the race for Nevada Secretary of State, Democrat Cisco Aguilar defeated Republican Jim Marchant, a well-known proponent of Trump’s false claim of voter fraud in 2020.
(Live election results from across the country are here)
The Democratic-controlled Senate will ensure Biden that his nominees to fill dozens of federal judges will be confirmed under Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
That would be especially crucial for Democrats if a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, opens up in the final two years of Biden’s term.
When the outgoing Senate returns to a work session Monday after an election that could last until the end of December, Schumer intends to immediately confirm two more federal judges awaiting final votes.
The 2022 midterm elections have been looming over the entire year for Trump, who has used his continued popularity among hard-right conservatives to influence the Republican Party’s nominees for congressional, gubernatorial and local elections.
With Republicans’ weak showing on Tuesday — even if they win a narrow majority in the House of Representatives — Trump was blamed for encouraging candidates who were unable to appeal to a sufficiently broad electorate.
Both Laxalt and Georgia’s Walker received Trump’s endorsement. Republican losses in either of these two races could further erode Trump’s popularity, advisers say is considering the announcement the third presidential election in 2024. House Republicans, if they win, have vowed to try to undo Biden’s victories on climate change and want to make permanent the tax cuts that will expire in 2017. They are also planning investigations into the activities of the Biden administration and investigations into the president, who has had business dealings with Ukraine and China.
Reporting by Tim Reid in Phoenix; Additional reporting and writing by Richard Cowan in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis and William Mallard
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