Senator Mark Kelly is expected to beat Republican Blake Masters in the U.S. Senate race from Arizona after another key batch of ballots on Friday night left the challenger still distant in a contest that also boosts Democrats’ chances of winning. maintain control of the room.
The Associated Press called out the race, along with other major media outlets moments after Maricopa County released unofficial numbers showing Kelly, D-Arizona, widened its lead by an additional 8,000 votes instead of Masters cuts it significantly.
The AP made the call at 8:14 p.m. Friday.
Kelly, who has portrayed himself as an independent-minded senator throughout the campaign, called the outcome a result of a spirit of cooperation.
“Thank you to the people of Arizona for re-electing me to the United States Senate. From day one, this campaign has focused on the many Arizonans – Democrats, Independents and Republicans – who believe in working together to meet the significant challenges we face,” he said in a written statement.
“That is exactly what I did in my first two years in office and what I will continue to do for as long as I am there. It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve in as a senator from Arizona. I am honored by the trust our state has placed in me to continue this work.”
There was no immediate statement on the Masters outcome.
Before the results were even released, Masters lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., whose top allied political action committee hasn’t passed Arizona at all.
Election coverage: Live Updates | Arizona election results
During an appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News, Masters made it clear that he would not be an ally of the longtime GOP leader if he visited Washington.
In particular, Masters faulted McConnell for directing money towards the Alaska Senate race featuring a pair of Republicans rather than spending in Arizona against a Democrat.
“But you know what else is incompetent, Tucker? The establishment. Right? The people who control the purse strings – the Senate Leadership Fund, Mitch McConnell. McConnell decided to spend million dollars to attack a fellow Republican in Alaska instead of helping me defeat Sen” Mark Kelly. If he had chosen to spend the money in Arizona, this race would be over. We would be celebrating a majority in the Senate right now.
“My message to Republican senators, hopefully to my future colleagues: don’t vote for Mitch McConnell for leadership. He doesn’t deserve to be Majority Leader or Minority Leader.”
Carlson asked Masters why McConnell wouldn’t pass in the tight Arizona race.
“I’ll leave it up to the viewer to decide if this is just malice or blatant incompetence. But clearly Mitch McConnell cares about Mitch McConnell and less about a Senate majority or the American people.”
Masters’ comments mirrored a report earlier Friday on CNN that former President Donald Trump was pushing to oust McConnell from the leadership.
“In phone calls with allies, elected officials and incoming members of Congress, the former president accused McConnell of spending recklessly in states where Republicans have faced significant headwinds at the expense of presidential candidates. more competitive contests,” CNN reported.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee rushed to the results to welcome Kelly for a full term.
“Congratulations to Senator Mark Kelly on his victory. Mark’s life has been defined by service – as a Navy fighter pilot, NASA astronaut, and now in the United States Senate. Arizona voters supported Mark because it cuts through political noise, solves problems, and delivers results, no matter how difficult the mission. Arizona’s working families and our country will continue to be better off with the independent voice of Mark in the Senate,” the committee said in a statement.
Both campaigns expected the end result to show close competition in line with the draw suggested by polls at the end of the race.
The stakes in the race rose in the days after voting was halted. After a surprisingly strong performance by Democrats across the country, Senate control will now be determined by the outcome in Georgia and Nevada.
If the Democrats win either race, they will retain control.
In Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., holds a narrow lead over Republican Herschel Walker in a race headed to a Dec. 6 runoff. This contest will not feature a Libertarian candidate who has garnered about 2% of the vote so far.
In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt held a dwindling lead over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., with many remaining ballots to be counted coming from Democratic-leaning Clark County.
The Masters entered Friday’s tally needing to earn outright “stragglers,” mail-in ballots cast on Election Day.
Kelly’s victory extends Arizona’s all-Democratic Senate representation to at least four years, the longest such run for the party in a 26-year streak that began in 1926 and ran until what Republican Senator Barry Goldwater won his first term in 1952.
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