Democrats near Senate control with Arizona win

The final vote count in US elections could take days as control of the Senate remains undecided and Republicans move closer to victory in the House.

The final vote count in US elections could take days as control of the Senate remains undecided and Republicans move closer to victory in the House. Photo: AAP

Incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly has defeated Republican Blake Masters to win a US Senate seat in Arizona, a contest that’s left Democrats one seat short in the battle for control of the chamber with two more races to be decided.

The win by Kelly, a former astronaut whose wife, Gabby Giffords, survived an assassination attempt when she was a US lawmaker, meant Democrats have battled to a 49-49 tie in the race for the Senate.

“I’m humbled by the trust our state has placed in me to continue this work,” Kelly said on Twitter on Friday.

Control of the Senate – and the shape of President Joe Biden’s next two years in office – now hinge on contests in Nevada and Georgia. Biden’s party avoided historical trends by limiting their losses in Tuesday’s midterm elections, shocking Republicans who had expected big gains.

Democrats needed one more seat for control, since Vice-President Kamala Harris can cast the tie-breaking vote.

In Nevada, incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto had closed to within about 800 votes of the Republican state attorney-general, Adam Laxalt. Georgia’s outcome is weeks away as Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock will face Republican Herschel Walker in a December 6 run-off.

In the Nevada governor’s race, Republican Joe Lombardo defeated Democrat Steve Sisolak, Edison Research projected. Sisolak conceded the race.

“Whether you voted for me or Sheriff Lombardo, it is important that we now come together to continue moving the state forward,” Sisolak said on Twitter. “That is why I reached out to the sheriff to wish him success.”

Political analysts anticipate a rush of campaign funds into Georgia as Republicans and Democrats gear up for the final battle of the 2022 midterm elections.

In Arizona, law enforcement is on high alert for potential protests, with barricades and security fencing erected around the Maricopa County elections department.

Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor, has criticised election officials in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, as “incompetent” and “despicable”, accusing them of deliberately delaying the vote counting.

Bill Gates, chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and a Republican, bristled at Lake’s comments. “Everybody needs to calm down a little bit and turn down the rhetoric. That’s the problem with what’s going on with our country right now,” he told reporters.

In the fight for the House of Representatives, Republicans are inching closer to becoming the majority and ending four years of rule by Democrats. That would give Republicans veto power over Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and allow them to launch potentially damaging investigations into his administration.

Republicans have secured at least 211 of the 218 House seats they need for a majority, Edison Research projects, while Democrats have won 199. Many undecided races are in Arizona, California and Washington state.

Despite the real possibility they might lose the House, Democrats have still cheered their success in curbing their predicted losses after they galvanised voters angry over the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion.

The Republican House leader, Kevin McCarthy, intends to run for Speaker if Republicans take over, but some of the most conservative House Republicans have expressed doubts that he has enough votes.

Meanwhile, Republican infighting in the Senate broke into the open on Friday as senators urged the delay of a Wednesday leadership election to discuss why the party did not fare better on Tuesday.

Mitch McConnell is hoping to continue as Republican leader, despite sniping from former president Donald Trump and other conservatives.


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