UPDATED with latest results: A pair of run-offs in Georgia will now determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate after the latest results were revealed Wednesday.
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan today joined North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis as the latest Republican incumbents to win reelection, meaning the Georgia run-offs January 5 between Democratic challenger John Ossoff and GOP incumbent Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Raphael Warnock and incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler will tip the balance to the winning party.
If the Dems sweep, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would hold any tie-breaking vote in a split chamber (the former California senator’s own seat will be filled by a Dem by the state’s Dem governor Gavin Newsom).
Georgia hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since Zell Miller in 2000.
PREVIOUSLY, November 5 AM: Fending off the toughest challenge of his political career, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham secured a fourth term in the Senate in a vital win for Republicans on Tuesday night.
The triumph by the close ally of Donald Trump and the one-time pal of Joe Biden comes as control of the upper chamber remains officially unknown as of Wednesday morning, though it was looking like the GOP would retain its hold.
While GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell easily won re-election in Kentucky, ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper flipped the Western state seat for the Democrats. That result was countered later when former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville defeated Alabama’s incumbent Democrat Doug Jones.
In Arizona, former astronaut Mark Kelly was declared the winner over Republican incumbent Martha McSally. The victory by the retired U.S. Navy captain and husband to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords now sees the home state of Barry Goldwater and John McCain with two Democratic senators, a notable feat on a night when Arizona went for Joe Biden in the first victory for a Democratic presidential candidate there since 1996.
The Republicans were able to fend off other challenges, however, including Iowa’s Joni Ernst winning a second term and Susan Collins in Maine winning a fifth. Tom Tillis in North Carolina looks to be holding on as well as ballots are still being counted. At least one race (in Georgia) is going to a run-off.
The GOP went into the night with a 53-47 advantage in Senate seats. As of Wednesday, the AP had it at 47-45 in its tally to date.
As for Graham, reduced at various points over the past few months to begging for donations on cable news against his well-funded opponent Jaime Harrison, a defeat for the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman would have been a major scalp for the Democrats. In fact, with millions of dollars flooding into South Carolina, Hollywood made up a significant chuck of that change with J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath, James L. Brooks, and Walt Disney Studios boss Alan Horn and spouse Cindy Harrell Horn among big Harrison donors.
As both the Presidential race and Senate campaigns continue to grind out results, the GOP currently hold 53 seats to the Democrats’ 45 and two independents in the lame duck Congress. Right now the election breakdown has the Republicans and the Dems both at 41 seats with two seats held by “other parties.”
In the past few minutes, Illinois’ Dick Durbin has been re-elected in another unsurprising hold for the Democrats. Over in North Carolina, with 84% of the vote tallied, Democrat Cal Cunningham is in a dead heat with Republican incumbent Thom Tillis.
How that all ends up is TBD later tonight, tomorrow or later this week.