Kelly wins in Arizona, pushing Democrats closer to retaining Senate


Mori. Mark Kelly (Democrat) is expected to defeat Republican Blake Masters in Arizona on Friday to win re-election, boosting Democrats’ chances of gaining another two years of control of the Senate.

The victory gave Democrats the 49th seat in the Senate, just shy of the 50 they need to control the chamber, where Vice President Harris has the authority to break the deadlock. Republicans, who also won 49 seats, must now flip Nevada and Georgia seats to seize control of the House.

While Georgia’s race won’t be decided until a runoff election in December, Democrats are cautiously optimistic they can win a majority faster than more mail-in ballots in Nevada’s tight contest.

Regardless of the outcome in the House of Representatives, Democratic control of the Senate, which also remained up in the air late Friday, would provide some leverage to Biden’s agenda on Capitol Hill. Republican control of the Senate would further complicate Biden’s agenda for the next two years, making it possible for Republicans to slow or block the confirmation of Biden’s cabinet officials and judges.

Republicans heading into the midterms need only gain one seat to control the upper house of Congress, which is evenly divided this year. Their path to victory narrowed on election night as Democrats flipped a crucial Senate seat in Pennsylvania, the Democratic lieutenant general. Gov. John Fetterman (D) defeated celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, another first-time Republican nominee who won the support of former President Donald Trump in the primary.

The Arizona game was one of the most competitive of the year. Former astronaut Kelly defeated venture capitalist Masters in a costly race in which the Democrat positioned himself as a moderate willing to work across the aisle. Some Republicans are frustrated with their chances in purple states this fall, as Democrats outspend them and maintain a significant lead with independents. But opinion polls suggest the race has tightened in the closing stages.

Kelly led by nearly 6 percent late Friday with more than 80 percent of the vote.

For a time, Arizona seemed ripe for reinvigorated Republicans, given particularly high inflation and a backlash against the Biden administration’s border policies in the state. Masters tried to mold Kelly into a rubber stamp of Biden. But like many other races this year, Democrats emerged victorious despite a daunting political environment, painting their opponents as extremists and fueling concerns about strict new abortion laws that ended on Jan. 20, 2019. The wrath of the ban. Roe v Wade.

Masters won the nomination with the backing of Trump and $15 million from a friend and mentor to tech billionaire Peter Thiel. He responded to former presidents’ false claims about the 2020 election in campaign ads that Trump won. Masters, running for the first time, quickly caused some anxiety among Republicans as their candidate underperformed in key races.

Senate Leadership Fund, a group allied with senators. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (right) started dropping out of the race a few weeks after the primary — though other Republican groups eventually helped Masters run on television against Kelly, one of the Senate’s best fundraisers.

Masters was critical of McConnell in the primaries and again this week, calling McConnell and the Republican establishment “incompetent” on Fox News.

“If he chooses to spend money in Arizona, it’s game over,” Masters said. “We will now celebrate a Senate majority.”

Masters gave Democrats a chance when he considered privatizing Social Security during the summer debate. Democrats also spent heavily on emphasizing his comments on abortion’s changing nature, as he dropped his call for a sweeping federal personality law in the general election and approved a proposed nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Kelly’s campaign had produced and tested negative ads against Masters by August 10. Kelly’s aide, 3 Elementary, found that the strongest ads used Masters’ own language, especially on abortion and Social Security. In August, when Masters had limited resources and Republican groups had few TV bookings to support him, Kelly’s campaign took advantage of the vacuum to dramatically increase the TV budget.

Internally, this tactic came to be known as “surge” – the bet that spending resources early was worthwhile as it helped define Masters for general election voters.

Unfavorable ratings for Masters jumped from 35 percent to 48 percent in a Kelly campaign poll conducted between late July and early September, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private strategic decisions. Masters himself identified the Democrats’ strategy, in an August 19 radio interview: “They want to nuke me, you know, they want to kill babies in their cribs.”

Kelly’s ad, meanwhile, is aimed at boosting his image as an independent-minded Democrat and trying to distance himself from Biden on the border issue. His first ad addressed the financial hardships caused by inflation by telling his story of growing up as the son of two police officers.

“From day one, this campaign has involved many Arizonans — Democrats, independents and Republicans — who believe in working together to meet the grand challenges we face,” Kelly said in a post-campaign post Friday. said in a statement.

Asked whether he would concede, Masters’ campaign had no comment Friday night.

A fundraising appeal for Masters’ campaign on Thursday didn’t allege wrongdoing, but argued that “some of the issues we’re seeing in this election are troubling.” It added, “We look forward to a controversial path forward. road and the upcoming legal battle.”

In an appearance Friday night on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, Masters went further, claiming without offering evidence that Maricopa County, home to more than half of Arizona’s voters, was twice “confused.” ” voted. A campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for evidence behind the claims, and a county spokesman did not immediately respond.

In Georgia, Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) has a slight lead over Republican nominee Herschel Walker, a former football player. But neither candidate met the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Also in Arizona, Democrat Adrian Fontes is expected to win the race for secretary of state, defeating Republican far-right state congressman Mark Finchem, who seeks to oversee Arizona’s election while baselessly pushing to cancel the 2020 election Certification of results.

Finchem is one of several Republican candidates for secretary of state campaigning on Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. If elected, he would serve as the battleground state’s top elections official through 2024. The Secretary of State certifies election results statewide.

“We know Republicans and independents are interested in the truth,” Fontes said in an interview after his campaign was called. “We know they’re not interested in lies. It says democracy, at least temporarily, will survive in this republic.”

In Nevada, the ballots are still being counted, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) narrowly trailed Republican nominee and former state Attorney General Adam Laxalter on Friday. But Democrats see encouraging signs that mail-in ballots from urban areas will catch up with her.

While Republicans have long hoped to retake the House, a goal they have yet to achieve, they face a more uncertain fight in the Senate. Republicans held on to contested seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin in Tuesday’s election, while Democratic incumbents won in Colorado, New Hampshire and Washington state.

Republicans need only five seats to secure a majority in the House and have expressed confidence they will win there. But so far their results have failed to form a red wave, paving the way for a minority majority in which leadership needs more unified support from an often fractious caucus to enact their agenda.

Republican Joe Lombardo is also expected to oust the Democratic governor. Nevada’s Steve Sisolak on Friday handed the Republican Party their first successor in the gubernatorial race this election cycle.

Sisolak said in a statement before the race was announced Friday night that “it appears we are within a percentage point or so of winning” and that he believes in “our electoral system, democracy and respect for the will of Nevada voters.” He noted the struggles of the past four years — including the pandemic and inflation — and said he reached out to Lombardo to wish him success.

During the campaign, Sheriff Lombardo of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, criticized Sisolak for his handling of crime, education and the coronavirus pandemic. He said he would be a “pro-life governor” but tried to play down the issue and said he would follow the “people’s vote” as Sisolak accused him of changing his position out of political convenience.

“Our victory is a victory for all Nevadans who want our state back on track,” Lombardo said in a statement Friday night. “This is a victory for small business owners, parents, students and law enforcement.”

Lombardo’s victory marked the first Republican gubernatorial win in a year, at a time when many Democratic incumbents defied Republican hopes for a red wave and won in tight races in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas and Oregon, independents Candidates split the Democratic vote evenly.

Stanley-Becker reported from Arizona. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez of Arizona contributed to this report.

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