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Senate Update: Lindsey Graham Survives Challenge in South Carolina



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Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has secured a fourth term in the Senate, defeating Democrat Jamie Harrison.

Some polling in the campaign’s closing weeks showed a head-to-head race, and Harrison’s massive fundraising broke records. But Graham mustered support across South Carolina, where all statewide offices are held by Republicans and support for President Donald Trump remains strong.

Harrison portrayed Graham as too willing to acquiesce to Trump. Graham maintained that he felt it in his constituents’ best interests that he align with the president, who has remained popular in South Carolina.

If Harrison had won, South Carolina would have been the first state in U.S. history to be simultaneously represented by two Black senators.

Updated at 7 p.m.


6:45 p.m.

Democrat John Hickenlooper has defeated Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado. It’s the first seat that the Democrats have picked up on election night.

Colorado is a state that’s shifted strongly to the left since Gardner’s election to the Senate in 2014.

Hickenlooper is a popular former two-term governor who repeatedly tied Gardner to President Donald Trump during the race.

Gardner promoted his work on a sweeping public lands bill, a national suicide prevention hotline he launched and various federal dollars he secured for Colorado. But he avoided criticism of the president and struggled to distinguish himself from Trump’s words and policies.

Democrats have won every statewide race since Gardner’s election, with the exception of a board of regents position in 2016.


6:05 p.m.

Republican Cynthia Lummis, a former congresswoman, has won an open Senate seat in Wyoming.

Lummis beat University of Wyoming ecology professor and climate activist Merav Ben-David to claim the seat held by Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, who’s retiring after four terms.

Lummis was heavily favored to win in the GOP-dominated state after raising and spending far more money than her Democratic opponent.

A former state treasurer and state legislator, Lummis comes from a prominent Cheyenne ranching family and has been well-known in Wyoming politics for over 30 years. She was Wyoming’s lone congresswoman from 2009-2017, when she stepped down to attend to family business matters following her husband’s death.


6:05 p.m.

Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse has been reelected to the Senate, beating Democrat Chris Janicek.

Sasse, a former university president, benefitted from an overwhelming Republican advantage in Nebraska despite his criticism of President Donald Trump.

He said last month that Trump has “flirted with white supremacists,” mocks Christian evangelicals in private, and “kisses dictators’ butts.” Trump lashed back on Twitter, calling Sasse “an embarrassment.”

Still, Sasse was a reliable vote for many of the president’s policies, and is known for his deeply conservative views on most issues, from fiscal policy to social issues and foreign relations.

Janicek faced even longer odds because the Democratic Party pulled their support from him after he sent lewd text messages about a campaign staffer. Janicek, the owner of an Omaha bakery, apologized but refused to drop out of the race.

The state party ultimately endorsed Omaha activist and professor Preston Love Jr. as a write-in candidate.


6:05 p.m.

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds has won reelection to his second term in South Dakota.

The ex-governor defeated Democrat Dan Ahlers, a former state legislator.

Rounds won despite scaling back his campaign activity during the coronavirus pandemic, citing health concerns for his wife, Jean, who underwent treatment for cancer earlier this year.

Rounds promoted his record of advocating for South Dakota’s agricultural community.


6 p.m.

Two more Republican senators have won reelection, and Republican Cynthia Lummis has won an open seat in Wyoming.

Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mike Rounds of South Dakota have easily won reelection.

In Wyoming, Republican Cynthia Lummis, a former congresswoman, defeated ecology professor and climate activist Merav Ben-David to replace Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, who’s retiring.


5:30 p.m.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas has won reelection in a race that’s allowed him to lay the groundwork for a potential 2024 White House bid.

The 43-year-old Cotton has easily defeated Libertarian nominee Ricky Dale Harrington, a former prison chaplain who had never run for office. The only Democrat who was running against Cotton dropped out hours after the filing deadline last year.

With millions in campaign cash to spend, Cotton has run ads in presidential battleground states like Ohio and Michigan, and campaigned with endangered Senate GOP colleagues. He insisted the moves were intended to help President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans, and not about any future plans of his own.


5:15 p.m.

Republican Bill Hagerty has won an open Senate seat in Tennessee, replacing retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Hagerty served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Donald Trump, and he rode the president’s endorsement to a win against Democrat Marquita Bradshaw.

Republicans have held both Senate seats in Tennessee since 1994, and Trump remained popular enough in the state that Hagerty mentioned the president at every turn, both in a contested primary and the general election campaign.

Hagerty is a Nashville businessman who sits on the board of a private investment firm. He served as the economic development commissioner for former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.


5:15 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware has defeated Republican challenger Lauren Witzke to win reelection.

The victory comes a decade after Coons won a special election to fill the Senate seat once held by Democrat Joe Biden. Since then Coons has voted solidly with Democrats while also seeking out ways to work across the aisle.

Witzke is a conservative activist and political newcomer who soundly defeated the Delaware GOP’s endorsed candidate in the Republican primary. The Republican has defended the neo-fascist Proud Boys, and previously promoted the baseless, far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.


5:15 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has been reelected to a fifth term, handily winning over four lesser-known challengers.

The 75-year-old Durbin is the Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat. He was first elected in 1996 and has been Democratic whip since 2005.

The candidates vying to replace him in Illinois’ only statewide race included Republican former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and Chicago businessman Willie Wilson, who ran under his own party.


5:15 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts fixture in Congress since the mid-1970s, has won reelection.

Markey easily defeated Republican challenger Kevin O’Connor to win a third term. The 74-year-old Markey has represented the state in Washington for decades — first in the House, starting in 1976, before winning John Kerry’s former Senate seat in 2013. After completing Kerry’s term, Markey won reelection in 2014.

Markey’s bigger test came earlier this year, when he overcame a hard-fought primary challenge from fellow Democrat Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and a member of Massachusetts congressional delegation.


5:15 p.m.

New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has won a third term in the Senate, defeating Republican Corky Messner and Libertarian Justin O’Donnell.

The former governor has promoted her record of working across party lines to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, secure funding to address the opioid crisis and improve veterans’ access to health care.

Messner, an Army veteran and attorney, argued the state would be better served by a political outsider.

Shaheen was the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire.


5:15 p.m.

New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker has won a second full term in the Senate.

Booker defeated Republican Rik Mehta, a business executive with a law degree and a doctorate in pharmacy.

Booker ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for president this year. While he lost the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden, Booker had a lock on Democratic support in the state, winning Gov. Phil Murphy’s endorsement.

His victory cements New Jersey as a Democratic stronghold. The last Republican elected to the Senate was Clifford Case in 1972.


5:15 p.m.

Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma has defeated Democrat Abby Broyles and three lesser-known candidates to secure another six-year term.

The 85-year-old Inhofe has been a fixture in Oklahoma politics for 50 years, having served in the state House, state Senate, as Tulsa’s mayor, and the U.S. House before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994.

Inhofe promoted his friendly relationship with President Donald Trump and his seniority on key Senate committees as reasons for his decision to seek another term.

He painted Broyles, a 31-year-old Oklahoma City attorney and former television reporter, in campaign ads as too liberal for Oklahoma.


5:15 p.m.

Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island has easily defeated Republican challenger Allen Waters for a fifth Senate term.

Reed cruised to victory over Waters, an investment consultant who mounted earlier unsuccessful campaigns for state Senate and U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

The 70-year-old Reed was first elected to the Senate in 1996. He’s a lawyer and military veteran who previously served three terms in the House. He’s a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.


5:05 p.m.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has won a seventh term in Kentucky.

The 78-year-old McConnell defeated Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine combat pilot who challenged him as a political outsider. McConnell is the longest-serving Republican leader in Senate history.

As President Donald Trump’s top ally on Capitol Hill, McConnell led efforts to defend the president during his impeachment acquittal in the Senate. He also worked with Trump on a tax overhaul and orchestrated Senate confirmation of more than 200 judicial appointments, including Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

McGrath also lost a race for a House seat in 2018.


5 p.m.

Seven more senators have won reelection, and Republican Bill Hagerty has won an open seat in Tennessee.

The Democratic incumbents who won are Chris Coons of Delaware, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jack Reed of Rhode Island. On the GOP side, James Inhofe of Oklahoma has also won reelection.

In Tennessee, businessman Hagerty defeated Democrat Marquita Bradshaw in a race to fill the seat of retiring Republican Lamar Alexander.


4:30 p.m.

Shelley Moore Capito has become the first West Virginia Republican to be reelected to the Senate in more than a century.

Capito defeated progressive Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin, a coal miner’s daughter who lacked statewide political experience.

Capito campaigned on her Senate record of securing federal money for opioid-related treatment in a state that by far leads the nation in the rate of drug overdose deaths. She also cited efforts to improve the economy, expand internet broadband access, build better roads and help residents and small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans made major gains when Capito won the 2014 Senate race, capturing all the state’s House seats for the first time since 1921.


4 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia has won a third term.

Warner defeated Republican challenger Daniel Gade in a low-key race in which the incumbent had a massive cash advantage. Democrats haven’t lost a statewide election in Virginia since 2009.

Warner is a businessman who co-founded the company that became Nextel, and he was governor from 2002 to 2006. He’s the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Gade is a professor at American University in Washington. While in the Army, he was seriously injured in Iraq in 2005, losing a leg after his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.


4:15 p.m.

Securing a Senate majority will be crucial for whichever candidate wins the White House.

Senators confirm administration nominees, including the Cabinet, and can propel or stall the White House agenda.

With Republicans now controlling the chamber, 53-47, three or four seats will determine party control, depending on who wins the presidency because the vice president can break a tie.

Republicans are fighting to hold on to their slim majority against Democratic candidates who are challenging President Donald Trump’s allies across a vast political map.

Both parties see paths to victory, but the outcome might not be known on election night.

From New England to the Deep South and from the Midwest to the Mountain West, Republican incumbents are defending seats in states once considered long shots for Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is facing off against Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot.

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