US Democrats are closing in on a Senate majority

US Democrats are closing in on a Senate majority


Joe Biden’s Democrats were one seat away from a notable mid-election result Saturday by retaining control of the US Senate.

Midterms traditionally deliver a rejection of the party in power, and with rising inflation and Biden’s popularity in the doldrums, Republicans had expected to ride a powerful “red wave” and win both houses of Congress.

But the wave never got much further than a wave, and on Friday Democrat Mark Kelly was set to win a close Arizona Senate race, putting the two parties neck and neck with 49 seats each.

With two races left to decide — in Nevada and Georgia — Democrats need only win one as Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the deciding vote if the upper chamber is evenly split 50-50.

The outcome in the House of Representatives also hangs in the balance, and while Republicans are slightly favored taking control, it would do so by a far smaller majority than they had envisioned for Tuesday’s election.

In Arizona, Kelly called for unity in a victory speech on Saturday.

“After a long election, it can be tempting to focus on the things that separate us,” he said.

“But we have seen the consequences that come when leaders refuse to accept the truth and focus more on conspiracies of the past than solving the challenges we face today.”

The former astronaut beat undefeated challenger Blake Masters, who was backed by Donald Trump.

The former president was omnipresent in the election campaign and the Republicans’ weak national performance was a major blow to politics.

Trump’s response to the Arizona result was to double down on unsubstantiated allegations of vote-rigging and post on his Truth Social platform that the Democrats’ win was a “cheat” and the result of “election fraud.”

Trump is expected to announce his candidacy for the 2024 White House on Tuesday – an announcement he had planned as a triumphant follow-up to an expected crushing election victory by the party he still dominates.

The overwhelming outcome has prompted a flurry of internal finger-pointing, with targets like Trump, party leaders and campaign messages.

US media on Saturday quoted a letter circulated by three Republican senators calling for the postponement of the party leadership election, currently scheduled for mid-next week.

“We are all disappointed that there was no Red Wave, and there are several reasons for this,” the letter said.

“We need to have serious discussions within our conference about why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024,” she added.

Some suspect Trump’s early entry into the presidency race is aimed at staving off potential criminal charges stemming from multiple investigations in the final weeks of his presidency, as well as his business affairs.

On Friday, Trump’s lawyers challenged a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating his supporters’ Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

The subpoena was aimed at putting Trump on oath next week, but lawyers filed a lawsuit arguing that as a former president he enjoys “absolute immunity” from being compelled to testify before Congress.

The subpoena was “invalid, illegal and unenforceable,” the lawsuit said.

After the Arizona result, the fate of the Senate rests with the two remaining tie races in Nevada and Georgia.

Counting the mail-in ballots for the extremely close competition in Nevada is expected to take a few more days.

If the Democratic candidate prevails, the party retains its majority. Otherwise, everything depends on the outcome in Georgia, where a runoff election will be held on December 6th.

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