The Associated Press called the Alaska Senate race early Wednesday for Dan Sullivan, the Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.
The decision came in the early morning hours on the East Coast, after election workers counted about 20,000 absentee ballots. An unknown number of ballots remain, but Sullivan’s lead of some 8,100 votes was little changed after that significant chunk of votes was counted, the AP stated.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to serve my fellow Alaskans in the United States Senate,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Our campaign was about opportunity — because I truly believe that there is nothing that is wrong with America that can’t be fixed by what’s right with Alaska.”
The AP reported that Begich is not conceding, as thousands of ballots are uncounted.
The victory means Republicans have picked up eight Senate seats. A win in Louisiana, which will hold a runoff on Dec. 6, would give Republicans 54 seats in the new Congress.
Riding a powerful wave of voter discontent, resurgent Republicans captured control of the Senate and tightened their grip on the House Tuesday night in elections certain to complicate President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.
The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, dispatched Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky after a $78 million campaign of unrelieved negativity. Voters are “hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful,” said the man now in line to become majority leader and set the Senate agenda.
Two-term incumbent Mark Pryor of Arkansas was the first Democrat to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado was next, defeated by Rep. Cory Gardner. Sen. Kay Hagan also lost, in North Carolina, to Thom Tilllis, the speaker of the state House.
Republicans also picked up seats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, where Democrats retired. They needed a net gain of six seats in all to end a Democratic majority in place since 2006.
With dozens of House races uncalled, Republicans had picked up nine seats in Democratic hands, and given up only one.
Obama was at the White House as voters remade Congress for the final two years of his tenure. With lawmakers set to convene next week for a postelection session, he invited the leadership to a meeting on Friday.
A shift in control of the Senate would likely result in a strong GOP assault on budget deficits, additional pressure on Democrats to accept sweeping changes to the health care law that stands as Obama’s signal domestic accomplishment and a bid to reduce federal regulations.
There were 36 gubernatorial elections on the ballot, and several incumbents struggled against challengers. Tom Wolf captured the Pennsylvania statehouse for the Democrats, defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
In a footnote to one of the year’s biggest political surprises, college professor Dave Brat was elected to the House from Virginia, several months after he defeated Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary.
House Republicans defeated 19-term Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in West Virginia, beat Rep. John Barrow in Georgia and picked up a seat vacated by a lawmaker in North Carolina.
Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had little opposition in coasting to a 13th term and is likely to retain his top leadership post.
After years of a sluggish economic recovery and foreign crises aplenty, the voters’ mood was sour.
Nearly two-thirds of voters interviewed after casting ballots said the country was seriously on the wrong track. Only about 30 percent said it was generally going in the right direction.
More than four in ten voters disapproved of both Obama and Congress, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.
Still, a majority of those polled supported several positions associated with Democrats or Obama rather than Republicans – saying immigrants in the country illegally should be able to work, backing U.S. military involvement against Islamic State fighters, and agreeing that climate change is a serious problem.
No matter which party emerged with control of the Senate, a new chapter in divided government was inevitable in a nation marked by profound unease over the future and dissatisfaction with its political leaders.
Several Senate races were close, a list that – surprisingly – included Virginia.
There, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner held a narrow lead over former Republican Party chairman and Bush administration official Ed Gillespie.
There was a little good news for Democrats in New Hampshire, where Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was re-elected after a difficult race against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
But in Georgia, Michelle Nunn lost to businessman David Perdue, depriving the Democrats of their last best chance to take away a Republican seat. In Kansas, 78-year-old Sen. Pat Roberts fended off a challenge from independent Greg Orman, shutting off another avenue for the Democrats – their last.
Competitive races were yet uncalled in Iowa and Alaska.
There were 36 Senate races on the ballot, although most of the attention went to fewer than a dozen. They drew hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads in a campaign season estimated to cost more than $4 billion – just for the races for Congress.
In statehouse races, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York won a second term.
Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson was elected governor of Arkansas more than a decade after playing a prominent role in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott won a tough race for a new term.
Also winning new terms were Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and potential presidential candidates in 2016.
Another possible White House hopeful, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, led his rival, Mary Burke.
Not even Democrats claimed a chance to topple the Republican House majority. They spent the campaign’s final days dispatching money to districts where incumbents suddenly found themselves in danger.
Republicans sought to downplay any expectation of large gains. A pickup of 13 would give them more seats in the House than at any time since 1946.
The elections’ $4 billion price tag spending was unprecedented for a non-presidential year
Six weeks after the primary runoff election, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel is launching his formal legal challenge of the election results, saying the evidence is so conclusive that he will be calling for courts to recognize him as the true victor of the race rather than calling for a new election.
“Chris McDaniel clearly, clearly won the Republican vote in the runoff,” McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said at a Monday press conference. “I say that very assuredly because that’s what the mathematics show. It’s not what I’m arguing. After the election, we did some post-election polling. We determined that of the Democrats that did cross over, 71 percent of them admitted they will not support the Republican in the general election. When you take those polling numbers and you go in and do the mathematical regressions, you can see that Chris McDaniel clearly won the runoff by 25,000 votes.”
“The short answer is we’re not asking for a new election,” Tyner continued. “We’re simply asking that the Republican Party recognize the person who won the runoff election.”
The campaign of incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), who was certified by the Mississippi Republican Party as having won the runoff by 7,667 votes on July 7, fired back, saying McDaniel had “made repeated and baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct” since the election.
“We look forward to holding the McDaniel campaign to the burden of proof that the law requires – and, we are dedicated to the defense of the votes of those Mississippians who voted on June 24 for Thad Cochran as their United States Senator, an election which has been as thoroughly reviewed and examined as any in modern Mississippi history,” said Mark Garriga, an attorney for Cochran.
The evidence, presented to the public in the form of affidavits that will be used in McDaniel’s forthcoming official challenge of election results, is hundreds of pages long and encompasses nearly every one of Mississippi’s 82 counties.
At the press conference, McDaniel announced he will be using such evidence to file a formal challenge of the runoff results with the state GOP executive committee. Ten days after he files the challenge with that body – which, given its extensive ties to the GOP establishment in the state, is expected to rule against the Tea Party-backed McDaniel or just simply ignore the challenge – McDaniel can take the challenge into state court.
“It’s been an interesting six weeks since the 24th. We’ve been very, very busy. We’ve covered the state as well as we could with hundreds of volunteers, but justice has no time table, and yet here we stand. They asked us to put up or shut up – well, here we are. Here we are with the evidence,” McDaniel said.
“We know that the conservative movement is passionate about this issue,” McDaniel said. “We know right now that the conservative movement is very angry about what’s occurred. We all witnessed what a segment of our party did leading up to the 24th. We saw despicable acts of race-baiting. We saw despicable allegations from those who are supposed to be leaders in our party. There is no place in the Republican Party for those that would race bait. There is no place in the Republican Party for racism of any kind, and that’s exactly what we saw on those evenings and mornings leading up to the 24th. That has to end. We watched it. We witnessed it. We saw the dirty money coming in from D.C., whether it was from Bloomberg or other Republican United States senators. We saw what they did here in Mississippi.”
McDaniel noted that the actions the GOP establishment took “moved more than 40,000 Democrats into the Republican primary, and in so doing mistakes were made.”
“Some of those weren’t even mistakes – some of it was very intentional,” McDaniel said. “What we’re going to show is a pattern of conduct on the part of a number of people that demonstrates a problem with this election. The evidence is clear.”
McDaniel said activists need to review the evidence dispassionately, looking at just the facts. “We feel that anger, and we feel that frustration, but that’s not what this challenge is about,” McDaniel said. “The reason I hire good lawyers is so I can walk away from it and ask their opinion objectively: What does the evidence show? We have to be dispassionate about the facts. But the facts – they’re on our side. The law is on our side. And these lawyers after several weeks of research will tell you just that.”
McDaniel’s team is specifically pressuring the Republican executive committee in the state to give the evidence a fair shake. “We look forward to our venue in front of the Republican executive committee – they’re colleagues of mine, some of which I’ve known for years,” McDaniel said. “This is an opportunity for our party to take the lead on honest, good and transparent government.”
Tyner, McDaniel’s attorney, said that McDaniel is not seeking a new election, that the evidence is so overwhelming that anyone reviewing it will come to the same conclusion: McDaniel won on June 24.
“Once the state executive committee has had an opportunity to go through the evidence that we have included in this challenge, then they will see that they have no choice but to recognize Chris McDaniel as the nominee of the Republican Party of the state of Mississippi for the United States Senate,” Tyner said, to a loud round of applause from the audience.
I can confirm that the attack ads in Mississippi run by “All Citizens for Mississippi” were funded by Senate Republicans, including Senators Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Rob Portman, Bob Corker, and Roy Blunt. It appears our Senate Republican leaders are willing to risk losing a Senate majority so long as they can get their own re-elected. Yes folks, it is true. I can confirm what we all suspected.
The advertisements attacked Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel and painted conservative Republicans and tea party activists as racists. According to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, All Citizens for Mississippi received funding from a Haley Barbour backed group called Mississippi Conservatives.
Mississippi Conservatives, in turn, was funded in part by Sally Bradshaw of the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project, former RNC Chairman and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the political action committees created for Senators Mitch McConnell ($50,000), John Cornyn ($50,000), Rob Portman ($25,000), Bob Corker ($25,000), and Roy Blunt ($5,000).
Interestingly, Sally Bradshaw and Henry Barbour (Haley Barbour’s nephew) worked on the autopsy of the 2012 GOP loss.
Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel is continuing to show accelerating momentum in his race to unseat 76-year-old, 42-year incumbent (36 years in U.S. Senate, six in House), establishment-backed Thad Cochran in the heated Mississippi run-off.
According to a new poll conducted by WPA Opinion Research, Chris McDaniel has opened up a sizable 8% lead over Sen. Thad Cochran, 49% – 41%.
“It is clear Chris McDaniel is well-positioned to win on June 24,” says a polling memo from the firm about the poll conducted June 9-10 with a margin of error of 4.4%.
The poll shows only 10% of voters undecided in the race, a number that should bode well for McDaniel, as most voters should have already made up their mind on Cochran after 42 years in office.
The polling memo says that 43% of voters were “definitely” voting for McDaniel, while 38% feel the same way about Cochran.
McDaniel narrowly defeated Cochran, 49.5% – 49.0% (155,040 – 153,654), in the recent Mississippi Senate primary, however, neither received the necessary threshold of over 50% to avoid the runoff election.
Two other polls, both conducted on June 5, also show McDaniel leading over Cochran, albeit by smaller spreads. Chism Strategies, a national Democratic pollster based in Mississippi, had McDaniel leading 51 to 48 percent. Strategic National, a national GOP pollster, had McDaniel leading 52 to 46 percent.
The race is seen as another “David vs. Goliath” race, with a grassroots constitutional conservative, McDaniel, taking on the well-funded, big business-backed Cochran, with similarities to the Dave Brat victory over GOP House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.
These recent numbers show McDaniel has clearly maintained the momentum in the race.