CNN predicts that Democratic senator Mark Kelly of Arizona will win a full six-year term, defeating Republican candidate Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who was sponsored by former president Donald Trump and had echoed some of his incorrect statements regarding the 2020 race.
The victory by Kelly, who was chosen in 2020 to complete the term of the late Republican Sen. John McCain, is crucial because it moves Democrats closer to their goal of keeping control of the US Senate. This would be an amazing accomplishment given President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and the unfavourable economic environment, which appeared to be favouring the GOP.
Democrats will hold 49 seats after Kelly’s victory in Arizona, while Republicans will hold 49. After their victory in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, Democrats now only need one more seat to keep the majority in the upper chamber. (Although there is a 50-50 split in the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris votes to break the tie.)
In Nevada, where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is attempting to hold off a challenge from Republican Adam Laxalt, the former attorney general of the state, both parties are still keeping an eye on a very close race. CNN predicts that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will face off in a runoff on December 6 in Georgia, where Democrats are also defending a seat.
The US House is still up for grabs, but it is obvious that even if Republicans gain a majority, it will be far narrower than GOP leaders had planned.
Kelly’s formidable fundraising abilities and distinctive personal brand as the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a retired astronaut, and a veteran of the Navy put him in a strong position to withstand the headwinds facing Democrats in the 2022 cycle, even in a purple state like Arizona that Joe Biden narrowly won.
The campaign team for Masters had hoped that an unusually large number of mail-in ballots that were left at polling places on Election Day would favour Republicans as the votes were tallied in Arizona. Because officials had to confirm the signatures on the vote envelopes, those ballots in Maricopa County, the state’s most populated county, took longer to count than those cast in person on Tuesday.
The Masters campaign’s strategists said that Masters had a chance of winning on a call with media on Friday afternoon. One campaign official remarked, “We always anticipated it was going to be a close fight. “This election is too close to call, according to informed observers. In either case, it will likely come down to 10,000 votes. We feel happy and know where we’re going.”
However, when the results came in, Kelly established a lead that Masters was eventually unable to overtake.
As a first-time candidate, Masters was able to successfully negotiate the GOP primary with strong financial support from conservative internet billionaire Peter Thiel, his former employer. In addition to reiterating Trump’s promises about the 2020 election, he promised to give immigration issues top priority in order to win over Republicans. He expressed his belief that Trump will win in a campaign video that was made public last year.
In what at first appeared to be a move to appeal to a wider portion of the Arizona electorate, Masters then appeared to moderate his tone regarding the 2020 election outcomes as well as the conservative positions on abortion that he had sought out during the primary. (Although a majority of voters in Arizona are Republicans, independents account for around a third of the electorate and frequently decide close elections.)
After winning the primary election in August, Masters removed all references to election fraud from his website. In response to a question from the moderator during a debate with Kelly, Masters feigned ignorance of any proof of election or vote-counting fraud that would have affected the outcome. Kelly had stated during the debate and on the campaign trail that if election sceptics like Masters were elected, the “wheels” may “fall off our democracy.”
But after receiving a call from Trump asking him to “go stronger” on election scepticism, which was recorded in a Fox programme, Masters appeared to change his mind. Masters asserted that voters were much more concerned with their worries about inflation, crime, and the border in the final week of the campaign, and that he didn’t think his comments on the 2020 election disturbed moderates. Masters was speaking to CNN’s Kyung Lah at the time.
Kelly painted Masters as an extreme who would endanger abortion rights, Social Security, and Medicare throughout the whole campaign. Kelly’s campaign relentlessly emphasised Masters’ anti-abortion views in a state where lawmakers approved a new law banning abortion at 15 weeks earlier this year and where legal measures are being made to outlaw abortion in practically all circumstances.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, had proposed a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks, and Masters had declared his support for it. This measure contains exemptions for rape, incest, and mother’s life protection.