Democrats seal control of U.S. Senate with win in Nevada

PHOENIX, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate after Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was re-elected in Nevada, Edison Research projected on Saturday, handing President Joe Biden a landslide victory.

Still, Republicans remained close to taking control of the US House of Representatives as officials continued to count ballots cast in the US midterm elections on Tuesday.

Cortez Masto lost to Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

With Masto’s victory on the heels of Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly winning 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.

“America has shown that we believe in our democracy, that the roots of democracy are deep and strong,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said at a news conference.

The Senate is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. The newly elected Senate will be introduced on 3 January.

Continued control of the Senate means Democrats will still be able to approve Biden nominees such as federal judges. If a vacancy were to open up in the next two years, that would mean anyone appointed to the Supreme Court.

If Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock wins the December 6 Georgia runoff election against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, it would expand the Democratic majority to 51-49. That would give Democrats an added advantage during the few bills that can move forward with a simple majority of votes, instead of the 60 required for most legislation.

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It would also dilute the influence of Democratic Senators Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, “swing” votes that have blocked or delayed some of Biden’s major initiatives, including expanding some social programs.

WASHINGTON STATE UPSET

It could take several days or more before the outcome of enough House races is known to determine which party will hold the majority in the 435-seat chamber. Republicans continued to have an advantage, but results were still trickling in for some races, including many in liberal-leaning California.

Biden, speaking in Cambodia, said his party would be focused on winning the Georgia Senate race but regarding the prospect of retaining control of the House he said: “It’s a stretch.”

House Republicans, if they prevail, have vowed to reverse Biden’s victory to fight climate change and want to make a series of permanent tax cuts that expire in 2017. They also plan investigations into the activities of the Biden administration and probes of the president’s son, who has been dealing with business with Ukraine and China.

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Democrats scored a significant upset on Saturday with a projected victory in Washington’s 3rd congressional district, where Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp defeated Trump-endorsed Joe Kent.

In Nevada, Democrat Cisco Aguilar won the race to become the state’s next secretary of state, the chief elections officer. He lost to Jim Marchant, a Republican who supported Trump’s false claim that he lost the 2020 election to Biden because of voter fraud.

Democrats also lost to Republican candidates in Michigan and Arizona who backed Trump’s false claim and sought to become their state’s top election officials.

​​​​Democrats received an important boost late Friday when Kelly, the Democratic senator in Arizona, was projected to retain his seat, defeating Republican Blake Masters, who endorsed Trump like Laxalt. Masters did not concede the race.

“We have seen the consequences that come when leaders refuse to accept the truth and focus more on the conspiracies of the past than solving the challenges we face today,” Kelly, a former Navy combat pilot and astronaut, said in a brief victory speech . to his supporters in Phoenix on Saturday.

There was still no predicted winner in the Arizona governor’s race, where Democrat Katie Hobbs had a narrow lead over Republican Kari Lake, another pro-Trump election denier.

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(Nationwide election results are live here)

JUDICIAL NAMES IN THE BET

A Democratic-controlled Senate will provide Biden with insurance that his nominee to fill dozens of federal judgeships will receive confirmation. Opening up a seat on the Supreme Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, would be critical for Democrats in the final two years of Biden’s term.

When the outgoing Senate returns Monday for a post-election work session that could take place in late December, Schumer aims to immediately confirm two more federal judges pending final votes.

Overlooking the 2022 midterm elections all year long was Trump, who used his continued popularity among hard-right conservatives to influence the candidates nominated by the Republican Party for congressional, general and local races.

With the Republican bishops’ performance on Tuesday – even if they win narrow majority control of the House – Trump was blamed for boosting candidates who could not appeal to a broad enough electorate.

A Republican loss in Georgia could boost Trump’s popularity as advisers say he is considering announcing a third run for the presidency in 2024 this week.

Reporting by Tim Reid in Phoenix and Richard, Cowan, Jason Lange and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Edited by Daniel Wallis, Ross Colvin and William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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