Trump celebrates GOP midterm victories despite loss of House to Democrats

Nelson, Scott goes to recount; Scott Walker concedes

Despite GOP loss of House, Trump declares victory

(RNN) – While the Republicans solidified control of the Senate with 51 seats on Election Night, how much more they can add to the advantage has not been decided.

Democrat incumbent Sen. Jon Tester of Montana began Wednesday trailing his opponent, Matt Rosendale, but ballot counts later in the day gave Tester the advantage, and the Associated Press declared him the winner.

Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida trails former governor Rick Scott in the race for Nelson’s Senate seat, but a margin of 0.4 is close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

Also not called is the race for the open seat in Arizona previously held by Republicans. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema trails Republican Martha McSally with 99 percent reported, but the margin is less than one percentage point.

With the Republican Senate majority assured, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate is going focus on approving judicial nominees now that they have more of a majority to ensure a conservative judiciary.

President Donald Trump’s news conference Wednesday to discuss the midterms began calmly but derailed during the Q and A, with Trump reverting to his combative nature when CNN’s Jim Acosta asked about his “demonization” of the caravans of immigrants seeking asylum.

“You should let me run the country and you run CNN,” he told Acosta before shouting at him to sit down. He also said, “You are a rude terrible person, and you shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way” and called him “an enemy of the people."

He also shouted at some other reporters to sit down after Acosta: “It’s such a hostile media. It’s so sad.”

Trump also accused Yamiche Alcindor, a black reporter with PBS, of asking a racist questions when she asked about those who believe the Republican Party supports white nationalists.

Addressing the elections, the president claimed his party “defied history” as he highlighted the GOP’s midterm wins, including the likely expansion of the advantage in the Senate. He credited his campaign stops for bolstering successful candidates for senator and governor.

Trump praised the candidates who embraced him while calling out others.

“We saw the candidates I supported achieve tremendous success last night,” he said. “Of the 11 candidates we campaigned with last week, 9 won.”

Trump then criticized by name Republican members of Congress who lost, blaming them for the decision to “stay away” from him and his policies. He mentioned outgoing representatives including Mike Coffman, Barbara Comstock and Mia Love.

“Mia Love gave me no love,” he said.

He offered the idea of bipartisanship in the future but added he would “blame them” if deals could not be made. He claimed earlier on Twitter that he would retaliate against House members if committees investigated his administration.

The divisive midterm elections led to surprisingly high voter turnout. The split in American politics was on display with the Democrats celebrating their newly won majority in the House of Representatives and gains in governor’s mansions.

The Democrats gained seven seats in governor’s races. On Wednesday, Republican Bob Stefanowski conceded the Connecticut gubernatorial election to Ned Lamont, who will succeed Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy

A blue wave was predicted – and in some respects, Democrats received one – but it was by no means a tsunami. They flipped at least 27 seats but lost several other high-profile races outside the House, including the one between incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in Texas.

Still, Rep. Nancy Pelosi expressed excitement over the election results, saying the Democratic House will be able to place a check on President Donald Trump’s power. During Trump’s first two years, Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress.

Former President Barack Obama, who stumped for several Democratic candidates across the country, applauded the efforts to get out the vote for the midterms, saying in part, “even more important then what we won is how we won, by competing in places we haven’t been competitive in a long time and by electing record numbers of women and young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, a surge of minority candidates and a host of outstanding young leaders.”

Looking beyond politics, the makeup of Congress is changing. There will be more women in the House than ever before.

More than 90 female candidates won their races by early Wednesday morning, including New York’s 29-year-old Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, who became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and Oklahoma Democrat Kendra Horn, who scored a major upset against her incumbent challenger.

Two Muslim women, Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and two Native American women, Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, made history by winning their respective races.

Elsewhere, hopes for history-making black candidates were doused.

Republican Ron DeSantis won the Florida governor race over Democrat Andrew Gillum, and Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp held a distinct advantage early Wednesday in that state’s governor race, though Democrat Stacey Abrams refused to concede.

Ron DeSantis will be Florida's next governor

In Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Will Hurd and Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones face a race that’s too close to call.

Though the AP initially called the contest in favor of Hurd, the margin between the candidates later narrowed, prompting the AP to withdraw its statement early Wednesday.

How the midterms results will affect the Trump administration remain unclear.

On Twitter, Trump declared the night a “tremendous success.” He said Monday he expects to make Cabinet changes following the elections but described them as customary.

Which races are too close to call?

Senate races

  • In Missouri, Republican Josh Hawley defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
  • In Indiana, Republican Mike Braun defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.
  • In North Dakota, Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
  • In Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn became the state’s first female senator by defeating former Gov. Phil Bredesen.
  • In Utah, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, won a Senate seat on the Republican ticket.
Ted Cruz holds onto his seat, defeats Beto O'Rourke

Stalwart liberal incumbents - Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Bernie Sanders, I-VT, Tim Kaine, D-VA, Sherrod Brown, D-OH, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, Chris Murphy, D-CT, Ben Cardin, D-MD, Bob Casey, D-PA, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA - won re-election.

Democratic incumbents Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey also managed to hold on to their seats.

The Mississippi special Senate race between Democrat Mike Espy and Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith will go to a runoff Nov. 27 after no candidate got 50 percent of the vote. Hyde-Smith was appointed to her Senate seat to replace incumbent Thad Cochran when he retired in April. If elected, she would be the first woman voted into the Senate from the state.

Democrats take control of the House while Republicans keep Senate majority.
Democrats take control of the House while Republicans keep Senate majority. (Source: Raycom News Network)

House races

  • In Oklahoma’s 5th District, Democrat Kendra Horn scored a major upset by defeating Republican Rep. Steve Russell.
  • In Virginia’s 10th District, Democrat Jennifer Wexton upset incumbent Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock.
  • In Virginia’s 7th District, Democrat Abigail Spanberger defeated Rep. David Brat, the incumbent. 
  • In Florida’s 27th District, Democrat Donna Shalala flipped a seat that had belonged to outgoing Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
  • In New York’s 14th District, 29-year-old Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
  • In Connecticut’s 5th District, Democrat Jahana Hayes became the first black woman to represent the state in Congress.
  • Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim congresswomen after their victory’s in Minnesota’s 5th District and Michigan’s 13th District, respectively.
  • In New Mexico and Kansas, Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids will become the first two Native American women in Congress.
  • In Kentucky’s 6th District, Republican incumbent Andy Barr held off a fierce challenge from Democrat Amy McGrath.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, who has made headlines for her opposition to Trump, won re-election in her state’s 43rd Congressional District. Waters was one of several prominent politicians who were targeted by mail bombs in late October.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who was shot when a gunman targeting conservatives opened fire on a practice for a Congressional baseball game last year, becoming a symbol of the country’s sometimes violent divides, was re-elected in Louisiana’s 1st District.

Republicans also held Ross Spano’s seat in Florida’s 15th District, Steve King’s seat in Iowa’s 4th District and Devin Nunes’ seat in California’s 22nd District.

Pro-Trump Republican Ron Desantis is the victor in the Florida governor race over Democrat Andrew Gillum.
Pro-Trump Republican Ron Desantis is the victor in the Florida governor race over Democrat Andrew Gillum. (Source: Raycom News Network/AP Photos)

Governors races

  • In a tight Florida race, Republican Ron DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum.
  • In a close Wisconsin race, Democrat Tony Evers defeated incumbent Republican Scott Walker, who conceded Wednesday afternoon.
  • Ohio elected Republican Mike DeWine over Democrat Richard Cordray in a hotly contested election for governor.
  • In Kansas, Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly defeated Kris Kobach, who was known for writing laws that took a hard line on immigration.
  • In Maine, Democrat Janet Mills became the state’s first female governor after defeating Republican Shawn Moody.
  • In South Dakota, Republican Rep. Kristi Noem became the state’s first female governor after defeating Democrat Billie Sutton.
  • In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor after defeating Republican Walker Stapleton.
  • In Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer ended Republicans’ eight-year hold over the governor’s office.
  • A number of Republican incumbents, including Bill Lee in Tennessee, Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas, Greg Abbott in Texas, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts cruised to re-election.

Democratic governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania won re-election without difficulty in New York.

Democrats chipped away at Republican control on the state level.
Democrats chipped away at Republican control on the state level. (Source: Raycom News Network)

Other issues of note

One local race in Kentucky made headlines because of who lost. Kim Davis, the Republican county clerk in Rowan County, KY, lost to her Democratic challenger, Elwood Caudill Jr. Davis gained notoriety after she was jailed for refusing to issue licenses for same-sex marriage in 2015.

Republican Dennis Hof, a brothel owner who died before the election, won his race to join the Nevada Assembly. A Republican will be appointed to serve his term, the Reno Gazette-Journal said.

In Florida, voters approved an amendment that will restore voting rights to most felons when they complete their sentences. Those convicted of sex offenses and murder are exempt from the amendment.

Previously, felons had to wait at least five years after their sentence was fulfilled before they could request their voting rights restored. About 1.5 million people are affected by the new law.

Voters in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Nevada and Oklahoma approved Marsy’s Law, which advocates for victims' rights and ensures the victims of crimes are told about criminal proceedings and can be present and heard at those proceedings.

Here are some of the other noteworthy issues being voted on in ballot measures around the country:

  • Ten Commandments: Voters supported an amendment to Alabama’s state Constitution that would allow the display of the Ten Commandments on state, public and school grounds by a wide margin. National organizations that advocate for separation of church and state are already promising legal challenges.
  • Medicaid eligibility: Voters in Nebraska, Utah and Idaho approved expanded Medicaid eligibility. A ballot initiative to renew Montana’s Medicaid expansion remains too close to call.
  • Abortion: Both Alabama Amendment 2 and West Virginia Amendment 1, which are largely symbolic rejections of abortion, passed. Alabama’s measure, which was approved, would “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life,” and West Virginia’s, which also passed, notes that “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.”
  • Marijuana: Michigan Proposal 1 passed, legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and older, but a similar measure in North Dakota failed. In Utah, Proposition 2 passed, legalizing medical marijuana. Missouri had three competing measures for different rates of taxation on medical marijuana; one passed and two failed.
  • Minimum wage: Arkansas Issue 5 and Missouri Proposition B passed, increasing minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021 in Arkansas, and $12 an hour by 2023 in Missouri. 
  • Gun control: Washington passed Initiative 1639, a gun control measure that would “implement restrictions on the purchase and ownership of firearms including raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, background checks, waiting periods, and storage requirements.” 
  • Gender identity: Massachusetts Question 3, which was approved, will keep in place a state law that “adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement.”
  • Voting: Arkansas and North Carolina approved amendments requiring voters to present a photo ID in order to vote in person.

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