Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Democrats retake control of House, Republicans hold Senate majority - Fox News

by Fox News 

Key committees of the House of Representatives will now be headed by Democrats. But the silver lining is - some commentators anticipate that the Dems' obstructionism will help Trump in 2020.

Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years on Tuesday night, Fox News projects, dealing a major setback to President Trump's legislative agenda -- but Republicans were able to hold onto their narrow Senate majority in a crucial election night that dramatically split power in Washington.
In a boost for Trump, the GOP's continued hold on the Senate gives Republicans control over all critical federal judicial appointments, including nominations to the Supreme Court.
But Democrats' win in the House gives fresh hope to liberals who want to investigate and perhaps even impeach the president. 

Democrats will also be able to halt many items on Trump's legislative wishlist, including funding for his proposed border wall and a new middle-class tax cut -- or at least extract concessions on contentious issues like immigration reform.

Although the exact size of the parties' respective majorities in the House and Senate are not clear, Democrats will soon have to decide whether to restore Nancy Pelosi to her old job as speaker of the House, which she held from 2007 to 2011.

"We will have a Congress that is open transparent and accountable to the American people," Pelosi said Tuesday night. "We will work for the boldest common denominator."

Previewing an adversarial relationship with the White House even as she said Democrats "strive for unity," Pelosi charged that Republicans are becoming "more destructive every day" and are bent on enriching the wealthy.

Pelosi and top Democrats have vowed to open a series of investigations into the White House upon reclaiming the House, including probes into Trump's unreleased personal tax returns, alleged collusion with Russia, and potential ethics violations by administration officials.
"We will work for the boldest common denominator."
— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Prominent firebrands including Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, and Jerry Nadler are slated to be elevated to lead the House Financial Services Committee, Intelligence Committee, and Judiciary Committee, respectively. With control of those and other key committees, Democrats will have the legal authority to issue subpoenas to compel Republicans and others to provide documents or appear at hearings -- and to seek contempt proceedings if they don't comply.

"We will be able to get answers the Republicans were unwilling to pursue," Schiff told CNN in October. "Records that the Republicans wouldn't ask for." (Pelosi has said that trying to obtain Trump's tax returns would be "one of the first things we'd do.")

Schiff added that he would place a "very high priority" on determining whether the Trump Organization had laundered money through Russia.

Republicans, meanwhile, defied expectations of a blue wave largely on the strength of several major wins in the Senate. Texas Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz sealed the result with his defeat of insurgent challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the most expensive Senate race in American history, the Fox News Decision Desk projects.

The Fox News Decision Desk also assesses that Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer will unseat one-term Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, scoring a crucial Senate pickup for the GOP. Heitkamp, who had long struggled against Cramer in the reliably red state, may have sealed her political fate last month when she voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In Indiana, Republican businessman Mike Braun will defeat first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, another Democrat whose vote against Kavanaugh proved costly. The race was one of the most closely fought races in the country, and Braun's victory marks another big win for the GOP. Trump had aggressively campaigned for Braun in recent days.


In another key race for Republicans, the Fox News Decision Desk projects that Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn will defeat former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen to replace retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker. 

While Blackburn spent all summer trailing Bredesen in the polls, she closed the gap and took the lead about a month ago, despite a last-minute endorsement by pop star Taylor Swift for Bredesen. Menendez, meanwhile, never trailed Hugin despite being seen as potentially vulnerable due to his 2017 federal corruption trial.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will also defeat Democrat Jenny Wilson to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, as expected. The former Massachusetts governor, previously a fierce Trump critic, secured his support after backing his presidency.

Democrats also saw some expected, but significant, Senate wins. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez will win re-election by defeating Republican businessman Bob Hugin, Fox News also projects. And the Fox News Decision Desk also projects that West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin will win re-election by defeating Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Manchin was the only member of his party to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

And the Fox News Decision Desk can now project that none of the four candidates in Mississippi's special Senate election will win tonight because none garnered 50 percent of the vote. The top two finishers – Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic challenger Mike Espy -- will face each other in a runoff election on Nov. 27.

A number of other key races remain too close to call, including the contest between Montana incumbent Sen. Jon Tester and Republican challenger Matt Rosendale, the state auditor. President Trump has made it his mission to defeat Tester, who helped torpedo Trump’s nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. At this moment, Tester has a lead in this race.

In Nevada, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen has a slight lead over incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller, but it’s too early to declare a winner in that race.

The Fox News Decision Desk also cannot yet project a winner in Arizona, where Republican Rep. Martha McSally is in a tight battle with Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

Democrats were able to regain the majority in the House by flipping key seats; they needed to take 23 for a majority. In Northern Virginia's 10th Congressional District, GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock is projected to lose to her Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jennifer Wexton. Comstock was widely seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

And 77-year-old Democrat Donna Shalala, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, has defeated Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar in Florida's 27th Congressional District, which has long been held by the GOP.

But two major Democratic efforts to flip Republican-controlled seats have come up short. In Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Barr has defeated Democrat Amy McGrath. The two had been competing in a neck-and-neck race, which Democrats saw as an opportunity to flip a seat in a GOP-leaning district. McGrath, the first female Marine to fly an F/A-18 on a combat mission, campaigned on a largely anti-Trump platform.

And Republican Denver Riggleman has defeated Democrat Leslie Cockburn to keep a closely watched Virginia congressional seat in the hands of the GOP.  Virginia's 5th Congressional District is home to incumbent GOP Rep. Tom Garrett, who announced that he would not seek re-election earlier this year amid mounting scandals. While the district supported President Trump in 2016 by double-digits, the contest had been tight between Cockburn, a former journalist who favors Medicare-for-all, and Riggleman, a staunch Republican.

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly speaks during a U.S. Senate Debate against Republican former state Rep. Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool) 
The Missouri contest between Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley, the state’s attorney general, is among those too close to project a winner, according to the Fox News Decision Desk. McCaskill said on Monday she doesn't "really care" if Democrats retake the Senate, in an apparent effort to appeal to moderate voters in a state Trump carried by double digits in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Fox News Decision Desk projects that Democratic Sens. Sen. Tim Kaine in Virginia, Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, and Sherrod Brown in Ohio, as well as Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, will all cruise to victory.

Democrat and former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger also is challenging Tea Party-affiliated Republican Rep. Dave Brat, who has represented the state's 7th Congressional District since 2014, when he stunned the nation by unseating then-House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor. Trump also carried this district by 7 points in 2016, and it has had a Republican representative for almost 50 years. But changing demographics have put it in play, analysts say.

On the gubernatorial side, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum could make history as Florida's first black governor if he defeats Republican Ron DeSantis to replace Scott, who is term-limited. Gillum supports Medicare-for-all and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, and he has the backing of liberal megadonors like billionaire Tom Steyer in his bid to shift the state dramatically to the left. His agenda contrasts sharply with DeSantis, a hard-line Republican who cut an advertisement in which he teaches his child to "build the wall" with toy blocks.

The race is currently too close to call.

And in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams could also make history as the country's first black female governor. She is facing off against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose hard-line voter registration policies have drawn rebukes from civil-rights groups and a federal judge, and Libertarian Party nominee Ted Metz. Kemp announced that his office was investigating "possible cyber crimes" by the Georgia Democratic Party on Sunday, throwing a last-minute wildcard into the race. It is too early to call that race.

Depending on Tuesday's vote totals, Georgia may not have a governor-elect for several more weeks. Under Georgia law, if no single gubernatorial candidate gains at least 50 percent of the vote, a Dec. 4 runoff will be scheduled.

Fox News' Bill Sammon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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