As has been the case during this entire week, covering the 13 various campaigns went to political overtime – that is post-election ballot counting, or voting, that could alter the final outcome – has been the dominant political subject.
So far, Democrats have been the beneficiaries of the late counting, winning four of the races and appear headed for three more wins. Republicans claimed one state, and are well positioned for a second win. The GOP then looks to sweep the three Louisiana campaigns that are in post-election run-offs scheduled for Dec. 6.
Several more races were called late yesterday.
Louisiana: The lone remaining Senate race is the Louisiana post-election run-off, and both Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) are hitting the campaign trail hard.
Both have ads running, and each is attempting to move the Keystone Pipeline energy bill in their respective chambers during the lame duck session for purposes of showing that they each have legislative clout and can deliver energy-related jobs.
Landrieu’s ad is above. She attempts to make Cassidy look unintelligent, while, in his own spot (below), the congressman comes out strongly for increased domestic energy production and emphasizes his background as a physician, never mentioning that he serves in the House. Largely because the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has cancelled their media buy for this race, the Republicans are dominating the airwaves with their ad presentations.
Alaska: The Senate race, as has been predicted since Election Night, yesterday officially went to Republican former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan. With almost 20,000 post-election ballots counted, Sen. Mark Begich (D) could only manage to cut Sullivan’s 8,000+ vote margin by 238 votes. Thus, with virtually no substantial change to the overall count with almost half of the known outstanding ballots counted, it has become evident that Begich cannot neutralize the Republican lead. The Alaska victory means the Senate party division is now 53 Republicans and 46 Democrats, counting the two liberal Independents, senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME), who caucus with the party.
In the Alaska governor’s race, the election night pattern likewise continues. In this case, Gov. Scott Parnell (R) is losing further ground to Independent Bill Walker. Though the 4,004 vote deficit is not insurmountable for the governor based upon the number of votes remaining to be counted, the trends suggest it is highly unlikely that he will be able to turn the outcome and is a probable loser.
AZ-2: As reported yesterday, Republican Martha McSally (R) will almost assuredly end the ballot counting – only a handful of provisional votes remain – ahead of Rep. Ron Barber (D). Arizona has a specific system for handling races that end in close fashion. According to state election law, an automatic recount is ordered for any contest that ends within a 200-vote spread. It appears likely that McSally’s margin will be less than that.
Once the vote is final, which won’t be until certification is awarded on Dec. 1, the Secretary of State obtains judicial approval to conduct an electronic recount. Then, precincts are sampled to ensure that the secondary count matches the original electronic result. If no irregularities are found, the recount is over and the winner takes office. Therefore, the process is going to extend well into December before we finally have an official member-elect.
The ultimate arbiter, however, will be the House itself. All members are seated by the body and any electoral flaw can go all the way to the full House itself for a resolution. Right now, McSally is in the driver’s seat, but it will be weeks before she realizes her goal of ultimately becoming a member of the House of Representatives. For his part, Rep. Barber is conceding nothing.
CA-26: Another call occurred in California, where freshman Rep. Julia Brownley (D) has been re-elected to a second term. With absentee ballots now pushing her lead to 2,730 votes, it is mathematically evident that challenger Jeff Gorell (R) cannot neutralize the difference.
Also in California, Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7), in what is now being tabbed as the most expensive congressional race in the country, has taken the lead over ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R) as absentee ballots continue to be counted. With still approximately 19,000 votes to count, Bera has taken a 711-vote lead. He had trailed during the entire counting process until yesterday.
In Fresno’s 16th CD, Rep. Jim Costa (D) has also finally taken the lead. He now holds an 86-vote advantage over farmer Johnny Tacherra (R). This finish could become incredibly close. With Costa now holding a small edge, approximately 4,600 votes remain divided evenly between the areas favoring the Democratic incumbent (Fresno County) and those boosting Tacherra (Madera and Merced Counties). So, the counting continues.
NY-25: In another race that appeared destined to an obvious finish despite the close battle between the candidates, veteran Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) has now officially been projected as the winner in her Rochester congressional district, nipping Republican Mark Assini by an expanded margin of 869 votes.
Therefore, if AZ-2 holds for the Republicans and the party, in fact, wins both open congressional races in Louisiana, the Republicans should end the campaign cycle with 247 seats to the Democrats’ 188, the GOP’s modern political era high-water mark.