November 28, 2022

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Kelly wins Arizona; Election stretches on with NV, AZ races not called

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With control of the Senate in balance, all eyes are on Nevada where incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt are locked in a tight race.

With almost 95% of ballots counted, Laxalt is leading Cortez Masto by a razor-thin margin of 0.1%. But with the remaining uncounted ballots coming primarily from the state’s urban hubs, Cortez Masto’s campaign has expressed optimism she could still win the race. 

The Senate race in the Silver State could decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress. If Cortez Masto prevails, Democrats will have cemented their hold on the Senate for two more years, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. But if Laxalt wins the seat, Democrats’ fate will fall to Georgia, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will face off in a December run-off election

Kelly wins Arizona: It’s still too early to call races for governor (between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs) but Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly was declared the winner in the Senate race against Republican Blake Masters.

Nevada in limbo: The neck-and-neck Senate race in the Silver State has been a slow go when it comes to counting votes. With only several thousand votes separating the two candidates and tens of thousands more to tabulate, the outcome might not be known until next week.

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House tilting red, but…: A number of House races, including several in California, remain uncalled, as of Saturday morning. Analysts are projecting the GOP to capture the House with a narrower-than-expected margin but Democrats still are given an outside chance of retaining the chamber.

Here are the latest developments:

Key midterm ballot measures: Missouri legalizes weed, Kentucky rejects anti-abortion amendment

‘A good day for America’: Biden hails midterms even as key races, control of Congress remain undecided

Election staffers in Arizona’s two most populous counties planned to work through the weekend counting remaining ballots from Tuesday’s election, with a possibly pivotal update in the governor’s race expected Saturday evening.

The state’s gubernatorial election was still too close to call Friday, with just 31,000 votes separating Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs from her opponent Kari Lake, the Republican nominee and former television news anchor.

Officials already counted over 1.1 million votes, but another 370,000 are left to tally.

– Stacey Barchenger, Arizona Republic

The race to lead the city of Los Angeles remains close, with just a couple thousand votes separating Democratic Rep. Karen Bass and Republican Rick Caruso. 

Caruso, a billionaire developer, previously held a lead of some 3,000 votes over Bass, who has been a U.S. congresswoman since 2011. But as of Friday, Bass led Caruso by about 4,300 votes.

-Ella Lee

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Republican Scott Baugh are neck-and-neck in a competitive race to represent California’s 47th Congressional District, which includes the once Republican Orange County that has shifted blue over time. 

Porter, who is seeking a third term, holds a lead of more than 2 percentage points with about two-thirds of ballots counted.

– Ella Lee

Far-right candidates struggled in races

Far-right political candidates were overwhelmingly unsuccessful in midterm elections across the country.

Right-wing candidates like Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Bo Hines of North Carolina lost, while other far-right candidates running for statewide offices in swing states like Arizona and Georgia either lost to Democrats, did not make it past the primary or are in races still too close to call. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a right-wing firebrand known for her inflammatory comments about Muslims and other groups, struggled in Republican districts. She is facing a razor-thin margin in a district that Cook Political Report predicted a Republican could win by a 7-point margin.  

“Any other Republican who was even vaguely mainstream conservative would’ve won that easily,” said Larry Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics who runs a forecasting model for election outcomes.

“It’s because after a while, even in deeply red territory, an extreme candidate like Boebert just rubs people the wrong way, and they just say, ‘Enough already. Enough. We’ll have a Democrat for two years.’”

– Erin Mansfield, Rachel Looker, Ella Lee

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised to a blockbuster reelection win this week, some supporters cheered for him to start planning another campaign: a 2024 Republican presidential bid against Donald Trump.

“Two more years! Two more years!” they chanted at a victory rally where DeSantis became the brightest star on a dim election night for Republicans. The GOP’s lackluster performance in an array of congressional races dented Trump’s aura of inevitability and created a bigger opening for a potential challenger to the former president, who is hinting he may announce a fresh presidential bid Tuesday.

Days after the midterms, Trump is playing defense and attacking Republicans who blame him for GOP losses and want the party to move past the volatile ex-president.

– David Jackson 

Colorado voters legalize psychedelic mushrooms for medicinal purposes

Coloradans interested in trying psychedelic mushrooms for medicinal purposes will soon be able to test them legally after voters said yes this week to legalizing the drug.

The psychedelics, often called magic mushrooms or shrooms, are usually sought after for their hallucinogenic effects. As of Friday afternoon, just more than 52% of the state’s votes were cast in favor of Proposition 122 (National Medicine Health Act of 2022).

The vote legalizes regulated access to natural medicine for those 21 and up. And according to the proposition, natural medicine includes plants or fungi that impact an individual’s mental health.

– Saleen Martin

With only hundreds of votes separating candidates in consequential races, campaigns are preparing for ballot recounts to confirm the winners of those races. 

In Nevada, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is trailing Republican challenger Adam Laxalt by 0.1%, Laxalt’s campaign is reportedly preparing to ask for a recount while also “bracing for a loss,” the Daily Mail exclusively reported. Laxalt denied the report on Twitter Friday night, calling it “totally and completely false.”

The race between incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Democrat Adam Frisch is similarly narrow, with just over a thousand votes separating Boebert and her challenger to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Frisch wrote on Twitter Friday evening that their race is “likely heading to a recount” as absentee ballots continue to come in. 

– Ella Lee

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly reelected in Arizona

Mark Kelly defeated Republican Blake Masters in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race after another key batch of ballots Friday night left the challenger still far apart in a contest that boosts Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the chamber.

The Associated Press called the race, along with other major media outlets moments after Maricopa County posted unofficial numbers that showed Kelly, D-Ariz., widened his lead by another 8,000 votes.

Kelly, who cast himself as an independent-minded senator throughout the campaign, called the result the product of a cooperative spirit.

“Thank you to the people of Arizona for re-electing me to the United States Senate. From day one, this campaign has been about the many Arizonans — Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — who believe in working together to tackle the significant challenges we face,” he said in a written statement.

– Ronald J. Hansen

More: Democrat Mark Kelly wins reelection in Arizona Senate race, beating Republican Blake Masters

Nevada nail-biter: 798 votes separate Laxalt and Cortez Masto

Late Friday afternoon, Nevada’s Clark County released the results of more than 27,000 ballots, shrinking Republican Adam Laxalt’s statewide lead over incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto to just 798 votes — and at least 23,000 mail ballots were yet to be counted in Clark.

If Cortez Masto wins, the  Democrats retain control of the Senate regardless of what happens in a Dec. 6 Georgia Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

Cortez Masto faces a tough challenge from Laxalt, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump.

Early on in the election cycle, national Republicans had identified Cortez Masto’s seat as their best flip opportunity. And the contest, widely considered a toss-up, is expected to remain close until the end.

– Rio Lacanlale, Reno Gazette Journal

Republicans place blame on Trump for subpar election results

After Republicans’ expectations of a resounding red wave crashed down, many in the party are pointing the finger at former President Donald Trump. 

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said in an interview on SiriusXM that Trump announcing a presidential run before the holidays is a “terrible idea” that could “muck up” Georgia Republican Herschel Walker’s chances at winning his U.S. Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. 

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears broke with the former president Thursday, saying she “just couldn’t” support him in another presidential bid. “The voters have spoken, and they’ve said that they want a different leader,” she said. “And a true leader understands when they have become a liability.” 

Among the particularly vocal have been politicians in Pennsylvania, a swing state where Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro prevailed over Trump-backed Republican challengers Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano for the U.S. Senate and state governorship, respectively. Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said there was a “high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses” and predicted that Trump’s influence would “wane” over time. Former Rep. Lou Barletta, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, said Trump “interfered with the primary here when there was no reason for it.”

– Ella Lee

Waiting on a milestone: LGBTQ candidates trailing by razor-thin margins in too-close-to-call races  

A bevy of House races are still too close to call in California (16) and Oregon (2).

Of particular interest: the congressional races of Democrats Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon and Will Rollins in California. Both are trailing by small margins.

They are also the last openly LGBTQ federal candidates still to be decided, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund political action committee.

Early Wednesday, the group said 340 out LGBTQ candidates had won elections all the way up and down the ballot, from races for school boards to the U.S. Senate.

As of Friday morning, that number was 436, shattering past records. LGBTQ Victory Fund spokesman Albert Fujii told USA TODAY. The group can chalk up two more if McLeod-Skinner and Rollins pull off victories.

At GLAAD, a New York-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, President Sarah Kate Ellis, told USA TODAY that “equality was on the ballot” with a litany of hard-right conservative candidates pushing for the elimination of gender studies in schools and opposing equality measures on the state and federal level. But the wins this week, she said, are “pretty phenomenal.”

McLeod-Skinner trounced seven-term incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in Oregon’s Democratic primary in May and faced Republican nominee Lori Chavez-DeRemer Tuesday. Chavez-DeRemer was roughly 7,000 votes ahead Friday morning, but only 85% of votes had been counted.

In California, Rollins is within 1,500 votes of Republican incumbent Rep. Ken Calvert, but just over half the ballots had been counted.

– Donovan Slack

Contributing: Associated Press


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