No winners called yet in pivotal congressional races

By Kate Ackley, CQ Roll Call

WASHINGTON (TNS) — The presidential election wasn’t the only hotly contested 2020 race without a declared winner by Wednesday morning, as numerous House and Senate candidates awaited their fates while officials in battleground states continued to count votes.

Control of the Senate still hung in the balance with uncalled races in North Carolina, Maine, Michigan and Georgia, though Democrats’ path to the majority had narrowed with losses in Alaska, Montana and South Carolina despite massive fundraising advantages for those challengers.

In the House, where Democrats had touted their expanded battlefield deep into GOP turf, Republicans were the ones beating incumbents and cutting into Democrats’ majority. Sixty-five House races remained uncalled Wednesday morning.

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North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis was leading his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, but The Associated Press hadn’t declared a winner by Wednesday morning. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who faced her hardest reelection fight in seeking a fifth term against State House Speaker Sara Gideon, also was leading.

Georgia GOP Sen. David Perdue also was running ahead of his challenger, Democrat Jon Ossoff. Perdue had slightly more than 50% of the vote as of Wednesday morning, but officials were continuing to count ballots. If he doesn’t get more than 50%, that race will head to a runoff. The other Senate contest in the Peach State was already set for a January runoff between incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democratic the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Michigan officials also were poring over ballots as of Wednesday morning with uncalled Senate and House races. Republican challenger John James had an extremely narrow lead over incumbent Democrat Gary Peters.

In Michigan’s 8th District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin said in a brief video update Tuesday just before midnight that absentee ballot counting was going slower than anticipated with only 76,000 of 267,000 absentee ballots cast counted. She held a small lead on Wednesday morning.

“We do know that we have a lot of our supporters who have cast absentee ballots,” Slotkin said, noting she was encouraged by communities that had reported vote tallies so far because she was performing as well or better in most places than she did in 2018. Slotkin noted she narrowly won the city of Brighton, which she had narrowly lost two years ago.

Indiana’s 5th District, an open seat previously under GOP control and considered a bellwether, also did not have a clear winner, but Republican Victoria Spartz was leading Democrat Christina Hale 51-45%, according to the AP.

“Hoosiers deserve to have their votes counted and voices heard,” said Joann Saridakis, Hoosiers for Hale campaign manager, in a statement shortly after midnight.

The Spartz campaign declared victory, which Saridakis called “premature and flies in the face of our democratic process. As we said earlier, there are almost 100,000 mail-in votes in the Fifth District that have not yet been counted, specifically in Marion and Hamilton Counties. We will continue to monitor vote totals before making any formal announcements and we would ask that Victoria Spartz extend voters that same courtesy.”

Some Democratic freshmen, whose paths to reelection had seemed fairly certain, were trailing in races that were still too close to call.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood was running behind her GOP challenger, Jim Oberweis, by fewer than 1,000 votes as of early Wednesday in the state’s 14th District. Rep. Cheri Bustos, another Illinois Democrat who led her party’s campaign arm for this cycle, had a narrow lead against GOP challenger Esther Joy King, in the still-uncalled 17th District.

“We know that our key races in the battleground are going to come down to the wire,” Bustos told reporters on a video call with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the morning of Election Day. “We know that. In many cases, we are already preparing for extended counts and even potential recounts.”
She said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had invested $10 million to handle potentially protracted legal challenges. “We will use every legal means necessary to make sure that we count every vote,” Bustos said.

Other states with uncalled House races included California, Texas and Virginia. California’s uncalled races included the 21st District where Republican David Valadao was leading Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, 51-49%, and the 25th District where Democratic challenger Christy Smith had a slim lead over GOP Rep. Mike Garcia, 51-49%.

Texas’ 24th District, an open seat, also hadn’t been called yet with Republican Beth Van Duyne leading Democrat Candace Valenzuela, 49-47%.

Virginia’s uncalled races included the 7th District where freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who like most Democratic incumbents had a strong fundraising advantage, trailed her GOP challenger Nick Freitas, 54-46%.

Other incumbents whose races haven’t been called include Democratic Rep. Max Rose in New York’s 11th District and Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched from Democrat to Republican, in New Jersey’s 2nd District.

(Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.)

(c)2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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