WASHINGTON (AP) — Their hopes fading for Senate control, Democrats had a disappointing election night as Republicans swatted down an onslaught of challengers and fought to retain their majority.
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, while ex-college football coach Tommy Tuberville won back Alabama’s Senate seat for the GOP, defeating Sen. Doug Jones.
Later in the evening, Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, and husband to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords defeated Sen. Martha McSally.
Republicans also held their own in high-profile races in South Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and Montana, narrowing the political map.
Respectively, Sen. Lindsey Graham won against Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, Sen. John Cornyn defeated Mary Hegar, Roger Marshall won against Barbara Bollier, Sen. Joni Ernst defeated Theresa Greenfield, and Sen. Steve Daines beat Gov. Steve Bullock.
It was a jarring outcome for Democrats who had devised an expanded political map, eager to provide a backstop against President Donald Trump and his party’s grip on the Senate.
The races attracted an unprecedented outpouring of small-dollar donations from Americans apparently voting with their pocketbooks to propel long-shot campaigns.
Democrats did retain their Senate seats in Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Both parties saw paths to victory, but options are becoming more limited.
As of about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, there were still some Senate races to be called. Races in these states still hadn’t been called by The Associated Press: Michigan, Maine, North Carolina, Alaska, and Georgia.
The outcomes might not be known until the days to come.
And in Georgia's special election, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock have advanced to a Jan. 5 runoff for Loeffler’s Senate seat. They’re the top two finishers in a crowded field that also included Republican Rep. Doug Collins. But no candidate was able to get the 50% threshold needed in order to win outright.
Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman, was appointed last year to replace retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. Warnock is pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. He’s trying to become Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator.
The voters’ choices will force a rethinking of Democratic Party strategy, messaging, and approach from the Trump era.