PHOENIX, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Democrats will take control of the U.S. Senate after Senator Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election in Nevada, Edison Research predicted on Saturday.
Still, Republicans were close to winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives as officials counted votes cast in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections.
Cortes Masto narrowly defeated Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
With Masto’s victory following Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s re-election victory in Arizona late Friday, Democrats would control at least 50 Senate seats, allowing Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties in the 100-member chamber.
“We believe in our democracy, and America has shown that the roots of democracy are deep and strong,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, told a news conference.
The Senate is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. The newly elected Senate will be sworn in on January 3.
Democrats with continued control of the Senate can still approve Biden’s nominations, such as federal judges. If a vacancy opens up in the next two years, someone will be appointed to the Supreme Court.
If Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock wins the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff election against Republican Herschel Walker, it would expand the Democratic majority to 51-49. That would give Democrats an extra leg up on passing some bills that could advance with a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes required for most legislation.
That would dilute the influence of Democratic senators Joe Mnuchin in West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema in Arizona, “swing” votes that block or delay some of Biden’s key initiatives, including expansions of some social programs.
Washington State upset
It could take days or more before the results of enough House races are known to determine which party will hold a majority in the 435-seat chamber. Republicans continued to hold an edge, but revenue still flowed into many races, including several in liberal-leaning California.
Speaking in Cambodia, Biden said his party would focus on winning the Georgia Senate race, but on the prospect of keeping control of the chamber, he said: “It’s a stretch.”
House Republicans have vowed that if they win, they will try to roll back Biden’s victories in fighting climate change and make permanent the expiring 2017 tax cuts. They also plan hearings into Biden administration activities and investigations into the president’s son, who has business ties to Ukraine and China.
Democrats scored a sizable victory in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District on Saturday, where Democrat Mary Klusenkamp Perez defeated Trump-backed Joe Kent.
In Nevada, Democrat Cisco Aguilar won the race to be the state’s next secretary of state and top elections official. He defeated Republican Jim Marchant, who supported Trump’s false claim that he lost to Biden due to voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Democrats also defeated Republican candidates in Michigan and Arizona who sought to be their state’s top election officials by supporting Trump’s false claims.
Democrats got a major boost late Friday when Kelly, a Democratic senator from Arizona, defeated Republican Blake Masters, a Trump-endorsed Republican, to keep his seat. Masters does not agree to bet.
“We have seen the consequences when leaders refuse to accept the truth and focus more on past conspiracies than on solving the challenges we face today,” Kelly, a former Navy fighter pilot and astronaut, said in a short victory speech. to his supporters in Phoenix on Saturday.
No winner is yet predicted in the Arizona governor’s race, where Democrat Katie Hobbs has a narrow lead over another pro-Trump challenger, Republican Gary Lake.
(Direct election results across the country Here)
Judicial appointments at risk
A Democratic-controlled Senate would provide insurance for Biden, whose nominees will win confirmations to fill dozens of federal judgeships. In the final two years of Biden’s term, a seat on the Supreme Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, could be crucial for Democrats.
When the outgoing Senate returns to a post-election work session on Monday, Schumer aims to immediately confirm two more federal judges awaiting final votes.
Trump, who has been circling the 2022 midterm elections all year, has used his continued popularity among hard-right conservatives to influence Republican nominees for congressional, gubernatorial and local races.
Trump has been blamed for the lackluster performance of Republicans on Tuesday — even as they won narrow majority control of the House — for nominating candidates who couldn’t appeal to a broad enough electorate.
The Republican’s loss in Georgia could further dent Trump’s popularity, as advisers say this week he is considering announcing a third run for the presidency in 2024.
Reporting by Tim Reid in Phoenix and Richard, Gowan, Jason Lange and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Ross Colvin and William Mallard
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