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Republican recriminations as Democrats reach magic number to hold US Senate

Republican recriminations have begun – and the blame is being levelled at Donald Trump – after the Democrats reached the magic number to take the US Senate by clinching one of the most embattled seats.

Democrat Senator Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election in Nevada, narrowly beating Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, to hold onto 50 seats.

The Democrats could even take an extra Senate spot in what CNN said was one of the party’s best midterm performances in the past century. In the US midterms, voters usually swing the other way after a presidential win.

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto holds onto the state for the Democrats.
Photo: Getty

After the Senate result, senior Republicans took to US morning shows and publicly blamed Mr Trump and his favoured candidates whose extremist views were rejected by voters.

Fingers were also pointed at the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.

Republican Governor Larry Hogan said Mr Trump had cost the party three elections in a row.

“He said we would be tired of winning. Well, I’m tired of losing,” he said on CNN.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said the election results made it clear that the former president was the problem and Republicans had to move on from “the past”.

“Those who were most closely aligned with the former president underperformed,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press show.

“Those who were talking about the future or had managed their states well overperformed.”

Senator Josh Hawley tweeted: “The old party is dead. Time to bury it. Build something new.”

The Republicans are still inching towards taking the House of Representatives but had been anticipating a “red wave” would also sweep the Senate.

The final nail in the coffin arrived on Saturday (local time) in Nevada, where Republican Jim Marchant, who helped organise candidates under the “America First” banner, lost his bid.

Mr Marchant and other candidates for secretary of state (the position that oversees elections) in pivotal states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona had promised to overhaul the voting apparatus with an eye toward 2024, when Mr Trump is expected to run for president again.

Their defeats were a sign of voters rejecting anti-democratic tendencies in tight midterm elections.

Their rise drew an unusual level of attention and spending to the races, which have historically been political afterthoughts compared with the pitched battles for Congress and governorships.

All of those candidates lost. None have publicly conceded defeat.

The only “American First” candidate to win a secretary of state race on Tuesday was Diego Morales in solidly Republican Indiana.

Joe Biden pleased with turnout

An “incredibly pleased” President Joe Biden has spoken about Democrats retaining the Senate, saying the election turnout was a reflection of candidate quality.

Speaking in Cambodia before the East Asia Summit, Mr Biden said the turnout was a reflection of the quality of candidates his party had fielded, after Senator Cortez Masto won re-election in Nevada.

A Democratic victory in the Georgia runoff next month would give the party outright majority control of a 51-49 Senate.

But a Georgia defeat would still leave Democrats in charge of a 50-50 Senate, with Vice-President Kamala Harris able to break tie votes.

“We’re focusing now on Georgia. We feel good about where we are. And I know I’m a cockeyed optimist. I understand that,” Mr Biden said on Sunday.

“Again, I’m not surprised by the turnout. I’m incredibly pleased. And I think it’s a reflection of the quality of our candidates.”

Mr Biden acknowledged a victory in the House of Representatives would be “a stretch” for the Democrats, but Republicans have fallen well short of predictions they would sweep to power in Washington.

Mr Biden said the elections showed the Republican Party was “going to have to decide who they are”.

-with AAP

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