Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat and gun-restricting activist, is the presumptive winner in Arizona, ending the chances of Blake Masters, who challenged the incumbent in a high-profile race, of flipping the Senate to Republican control.
Although Masters said on Saturday he will not concede until after all votes are counted, the Associated Press has seen enough and declared Kelly the winner Friday night, moving Sen. Chuck Schumer and the Democrats one seat closer to holding the majority in the Senate.
Arizona’s Senate results bring the Senate to 49 Democrats and 49 Republicans. The Georgia Senate race will go to a runoff on Dec. 6, and Nevada’s race is too close to call. Republicans now need to flip both those seats to Republican in order to take over leadership. A 50-50 Senate means Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaking vote, as she has been for the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Blake Masters said it could have been different, but that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who runs the Senate Leadership Fund, spent $7 million in Alaska, getting into a battle with Alaska Republicans who wanted to oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Masters said that could have made the difference in Arizona or the other key states, and he lays the failure of the red wave on McConnell.
In Alaska, McConnell spent those millions not attacking Democrats, but smearing the name of Republican Kelly Tshibaka, to the point that several districts of the Republican Party issued resolutions of censure and condemnation of McConnell and told him to butt out of Alaska, if he was not going to support the Alaska Republican Party’s endorsed candidate, Tshibaka.
The Alaska Republican Party’s national committeeman, a member of the Republican National Committee, weighed in with an open letter to McConnell. Alaska Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Brown issued a weak response to the McConnell attacks, however.
Maricopa County has about 275,000 ballots that are outstanding from election day drop offs, and they are expected to be heavily Republican but the mess in Maricopa has led many to believe Masters has no path to victory.
Masters has called for removing McConnell as Republican Senate leader, and he is not alone.
“How much did McConnell spend in Colorado on his favorite candidate? Millions. He was blown away. How much did he spend on smearing the conservative in Alaska? Millions. How much did he spend on the Arizona Senate race. Nothing,” said Mark Levin, conservative commentator and host of the Mark Levin Show.
Benny Johnson, conservative analyst and host of his own show, said, “Never ever forget that Mitch McConnell pulled *all* Senate campaign cash from Arizona – BACKSTABBING Blake Master because he did not like the cut of his jib. McConnell would rather a young promising, popular Republican LOSE than be MAJORITY Leader and have to listen to the base.”
McConnell appears to be in trouble, as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he wants the vote on the Senate leadership to be held after candidates for the position are vetted for their “genuine” commitment to fighting for the priorities and values of the working Americans.
“The Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed,” Rubio wrote Friday on Twitter. “First we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida.”
Rubio is being joined by others in calling for a delay in appointing any leader for the Republicans until the two remaining seats are decided. That’s not counting Alaska, which is presumed to go Republican.
Saturday is expected to be the day that Nevada is completed and announced, which will decide who has the power in the Senate.
Although Kelly Tshibaka holds the lead for Senate against incumbent Murkowski, it’s widely understood by analysts and pollsters that the second-place votes for Democrat Pat Chesbro will be awarded to Murkowski, to allow her to get beyond the 50% threshold needed to win. As of Thursday, there are at least 32,736 ballots remaining to be counted at the Division of Elections, including 19,198 absentees, 13,538 early votes, and 1,549 questioned ballots. The next tranche of ballots will be counted and announced on Tuesday.