- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Republicans are guaranteed at least 50 seats in the Senate next year after Sen. Dan Sullivan was projected Wednesday to win reelection in Alaska.

Two races are still to be decided, but they will have to wait for runoffs in Georgia in January. If the Republican candidate wins either one of those, the party will claim a majority and outright control of the Senate. Republicans would have a solid grasp on one of the reins of government and the ability to shape the agenda of presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden.

Democrats, meanwhile, have secured the 218 House seats needed to claim control of the lower chamber next year, according to an Associated Press projection overnight Tuesday.

But the party’s majority will be substantially slimmer than it has been. Republicans have secured 202 seats and are leading in a majority of the 15 races still too close to project a winner, according to The Associated Press.

Among those is Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who was projected Wednesday to emerge victorious in his bid for a 25th term — a Republican Party record.

Analysts suggested that races in Alaska, usually a solidly red state, could be close this year, but the results belie the predictions.

Mr. Sullivan was leading Al Gross, an independent backed by Democrats in the race, by 20 points, or 50,000 votes, leading news organizations to call it for the Republican.

“Alaskans know Dan as a man who always puts service before self and who has championed the unique needs of his state in Washington,” said Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm.

Democrats went into Election Day confident of expanding their House majority and with hopes of capturing the Senate.

They are now pouring money and effort into Georgia, where two Jan. 5 runoffs will decide the final contours of the upper chamber.

The Republicans, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are running as a package deal, urging Georgians to send them back to Washington as a check on what they say would be a runaway liberal agenda.

“The country as we know it is now at stake in Georgia,” said Paige Lindgren, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The two Democrats, Jon Ossoff, who faces Mr. Perdue, and Raphael Warnock, who faces Ms. Loeffler, are likely to be tied together too.

That could be bad news for Mr. Ossoff, who tried to cut a more moderate path in the campaign. Republicans are seizing on Mr. Warnock’s past, including his welcome of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the 1990s, when he was a pastor at a church in New York.

The Democrats have countered by labeling the two Republicans corrupt.

Normally red Georgia thrilled Democrats this year by apparently delivering its presidential vote to Mr. Biden and forcing both Senate races into a runoff.

“The state of Georgia shocked the nation last week when we proved that Democrats can compete and win everywhere, at every level — even in the Deep South,” Mr. Ossoff said in a fundraising pitch this week.

Outside organizations are rushing to the state.

The Club for Growth, a free market advocacy group, said Wednesday that it will spend $10 million to back the Republicans and is forming a “Save America Coalition” to coordinate with other conservative outfits.

Meanwhile, liberal groups that were wary of Mr. Ossoff now see his victory as the only hope for the massive agenda they have planned.

“If Democrats can win both Senate seats, we will end Mitch McConnell’s despicable reign as Senate majority leader,” said MoveOn.org, one of the liberal groups. “But if we lose even one of those seats, McConnell will retain control of the Senate — and without a Democratic majority, McConnell will be able to single-handedly stall, obstruct, and block every single piece of Democratic legislation.”

Mail-in voting in Georgia begins next week, even as the state prepares for a recount of the presidential vote.

In Alaska, the Senate race was called a day after a final result in North Carolina, where Democrat Cal Cunningham conceded defeat to Sen. Thom Tillis. Mr. Cunningham appeared to be headed toward victory until he acknowledged extramarital activity with the wife of a disabled veteran.

Both Mr. Tillis and Mr. Sullivan were elected in the 2014 Republican wave, when both defeated one-term Democrats.

That Republican class had stunning success again last week, with Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia all defending the seats they first won six years ago.

The only casualty from the 2014 Republican class was Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who lost last week to former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Republicans’ other incumbent who lost last week is Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona. She lost her race for the Senate in 2018 but then was appointed to fill the seat of the late Sen. John McCain. She is projected to have lost again.

Ms. McSally has not conceded, but she trailed Democrat Mark Kelly by nearly 80,000 votes with nearly all ballots counted.

Each of the races had its own dynamics, but Republicans did far better than polls projected in all of them.

In Alaska, political analysts gave Mr. Sullivan an edge going into Election Day, with polls showing a tight race. Some surveys gave Mr. Gross a lead, and the average of polls suggested that Mr. Sullivan had a lead of about 3 points.

As of Wednesday, Mr. Sullivan led by 20 points.

Mr. Gross ran his campaign chiefly as a referendum on Mr. Trump, calling Mr. Sullivan his “lapdog.”

That turned out to be a mistake in a state that has voted for a Democratic president once in its history. Mr. Trump led in the voting over Mr. Biden by 18 points.

• Ryan Lovelace contributed to this article.

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