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Brian Kemp Reelected Georgia Governor, Defeats Stacey Abrams

Kemp managed to hold onto his seat, despite a strong challenge from Abrams.

Megan Varner/Getty Images

Brian Kemp was reelected as governor of Georgia Tuesday, defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to a projection from CNN.

While much of the media attention on Georgia has focused on the Senate race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker, the outcome of the state’s governor race was also hotly anticipated.

Kemp, who has been a fixture of Georgia’s government since 2003, is a staunch conservative. But he has had a fraught relationship with former President Donald Trump because of his refusal to go along with Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Georgia narrowly went for Joe Biden in that cycle, and his unexpected victory there was crucial to securing the presidency.

Democrats have been gaining momentum in the formerly deep red state, a development attributed to the growing influence of voters of color, in particular Black voters.

Abrams has been credited with playing a key role in Joe Biden’s 2020 win, having spent the better part of a decade building up Georgia’s Democratic organizing infrastructure and mobilizing the state’s expanding Black middle class.

Kemp and Abrams had previously gone head to head in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, with Kemp winning by just 54,723 votes, or about 1.4 percent. Abrams’s organization, Fair Fight Action, filed a lawsuit shortly thereafter alleging voter suppression, though a judge ruled against it this September.

Voting rights was a major point of contention in the leadup to the election. Last April, Kemp signed an egregious voter suppression law, sharply restricting access to absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes.

Abortion was another flashpoint in the race. Under Kemp’s governorship, Georgia passed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws, prohibiting the procedure after six weeks—before many people know they are pregnant. During a televised debate, Kemp refused to say whether he would further restrict access. Abrams promised to veto any additional tightening of abortion laws and to work to repeal the six-week ban.

MAGA Candidate J.D. Vance Wins Ohio Senate Race, In Huge Blow to Democrats

Vance beat Tim Ryan and maintained Republican control of the seat.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

MAGA Republican J.D. Vance was elected Ohio senator Tuesday in a tight race against Democratic Representative Tim Ryan, according to a projection from NBC.

Vance leads Ryan 53.5 percent to 46.4 percent, with 87 percent reporting.

Ohio has long been viewed as a swing state, but it went solidly for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and has continued to shift farther right ever since.

But the competition between Ryan and Vance to replace outgoing Republican Senator Rob Portman was surprisingly tight, leaving many analysts unsure of which way it would go until the results came in.

Ryan had served for years as an Ohio representative. Although he is a registered Democrat, on the campaign trail, he sought to cast himself as more of an independent. He agreed with Trump on trade, but supported environmental policy, affordable health care, and legislation to codify abortion access and regulate gun ownership.

Vance, a former venture capitalist and writer, ran on an extreme right-wing platform. He was vague on his plans for issues such as inflation and energy production. But he was clear that he wanted to push back against gun control and to stop granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

He said he wanted to finish the expensive and ineffective U.S.-Mexico border wall started under Trump and ban all abortion.

Vance is also a 2020 election denier and wants to end mail-in voting.

His political leaning was a surprise to many, though. Vance rose to prominence with the publication of his memoir Hillbilly Elegy, an examination of the white working class, which quickly became a bestseller and was made into a movie. At the time of publication in 2016, Vance was a conservative Trump-skeptic living in San Francisco.

But when he moved back to Ohio, he made a stark and unexpected shift to the right, endorsing QAnon conspiracy theories and the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. He even traveled to Mar-a-Lago to secure Trump’s endorsement of his senatorial campaign.

This piece was updated.

Democrat Abigail Spanberger Secures Key Win in Virginia

Republicans were expected to take Spanberger's seat, but she held on to it.

Samuel Corum/Getty Images

In Virginia’s 7th congressional district, Democrat Abigail Spanberger was projected the winner in a tough and very closely watched race.

Her Republican opponent was Yesli Vega, who supported a nationwide abortion ban and other far-right positions. A Fredericksburg newspaper, in endorsing Spanberger, wrote of Vega: “Not only is Vega dangerously uninformed about rape and its consequences, she is making clear what other extremists are now pushing—a total nationwide ban on abortion in the U.S.”

Spanberger’s win is a huge emotional lift for Democrats. The GOP put a big target on her, gerrymandering her district to make it more Republican and even moving it around such that the house where she lives was no longer in the district. This was a seat the GOP fully expected to take.

Assuming this holds, Democratic incumbents end up holding two of the three seats Republicans were licking their chops about. Jennifer Wexton in northern Virginia also appears to have fought off a challenge from Hung Cao, who was advertising heavily on Washington DC TV in the campaign’s closing weeks. But it does appear that Elaine Luria of Virginia Beach will lose to GOP challenger Jen Kiggans (another extremist). Luria made her work on the January 6 committee defending democracy a centerpiece of her campaign. It would have been great to see Luria pull that out.

But Spanberger’s win is huge. And she ran in part on the infrastructure bill—that is, she didn’t run away from Joe Biden’s agenda. Two out of three in Virginia, especially when one of the two is a candidate the Republicans really thought they could take out, is a very big deal.

Arizona Judge Denies GOP Request to Extend Voting, Says There’s No Evidence People Couldn’t Vote

Conspiracy theorists are pointing to a problem with voting machines in Arizona's Maricopa County, but voters could still drop off their ballots.

John Moore/Getty Images
Kari Lake

There was a strange back and forth about voting in Arizona’s Maricopa County on Tuesday, which  resulted in a judge denying a request to extend voting in the county beyond normal hours.

It started with a problem with tabulator machines in the county that sparked worries (and some suspicion among conspiracy theorists) that voters in the country wouldn’t be able to cast their ballots. The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, and Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters filed a joint lawsuit the same day seeking to extend voting by a few hours. In response, the campaign for Senator Mark Kelly, the incumbent and Masters’ Democratic opponent, filed a lawsuit arguing against extending voting in the county.

“At the eleventh hour of this election, Plaintiffs seek the drastic remedy of changing the rules of the election, while it is occurring, in the hopes of obtaining an electoral advantage,” the lawsuit wrote. “But there is no evidence that any voter who appeared to vote at Maricopa County polling places was turned away from the polls or that voting today in Maricopa County was substantially impeded.”

Indeed, the voting machine issue didn’t stop people at those polls from voting. Voters were simply told to instead drop their ballots off in a lockbox attached to the machines.

Late Tuesday night, a Superior Court judge for Maricopa County denied the Republicans’ request to extend voting by a few hours, saying there wasn’t strong enough evidence that voters were unable to vote within the original period of time.

The Maricopa voting machine problems garnered scrutiny from law enforcement and election officials, who moved throughout the day to quell fears that people weren’t able to cast their vote. Former President Donald Trump said, without evidence, “there’s a lot of bad things going on” in Maricopa County. But officials with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) stressed that despite some hiccups, voters were still able to vote.

“We have no indication of malfeasance or malicious activity,” a CISA official told reporters Tuesday afternoon. 

Colorado and North Carolina Offer Hope That There Won’t Be a “Red Wave” This Election

The so-called "red wave" might not really be a wave at all.

Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Tonight might not be a blowout after all.

At about 9:35 p.m. ET, or a little more than half an hour after the Colorado polls closed, NBC projected incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet the winner over GOP challenger Joe O’Dea. That was a pretty fast call for a race that in September and October was labeled as one where a seemingly safe Democratic incumbent might be in trouble.

In other words, Bennet was exactly the kind of Democratic who would have tumbled in a major red wave. But the fact that he not only held on but is apparently winning pretty comfortably is a sign of hope.

Item two: About 10 minutes later, NBC shifted the North Carolina Senate race from “too early to call” to “too close to call.” “Too early” means, “Well, we can’t say it yet, but we all really know what’s going to happen”—in this case, that Republican Ted Budd was going to beat Democrat Cheri Beasley. I remember, still, the shudder of involuntary horror that consumed by body on Election Night 2016, at (I think) exactly 8:32 p.m., when NBC shifted that same North Carolina from “too early” (meaning, then, that Hillary Clinton was going to win, but they just couldn’t say yet) to “too close,” which meant that Donald Trump was going to win. And if he was going to win North Carolina, that meant he was going to win period. I still have nightmares.

But tonight, the shift to “too close” appears to bode well for Beasley. Maybe not to the extent that she wins, which would of course be great; but at least to the extent that she’s outperforming late polls, which tells us something interesting.

Things can still change. But right now, around 10 p.m. Eastern time? It’s not yet a red wave kind of night.

We Won’t Get Immediate Election Results in Nevada, Georgia, or Arizona

Three battleground states will take longer to count their votes—and then come the conspiracy theorists.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Add Nevada to the list of states where the results of top ticket races may not be called tonight. That’s according to Jon Ralston, the indispensable Nevada journalist.

Ralston tweeted Tuesday evening that mail-in ballots dropped off in Clark County, the biggest county in the state, won’t fully be counted tonight and may not be until Thursday.

It was highly unlikely that control of the Senate would be decided Tuesday night. Georgia’s Senate race was expected to go to a run-off between incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker..

But as election results came in Tuesday night, political strategists and candidates began to caution that election results will also not be immediately clear in Nevada and Arizona. Arizona counts ballots slowly, a Democratic official cautioned. There was also a problem with tabulating machines in Arizona’s Maricopa County, raising the possibility that a winner in the Senate race or governor’s race would not be announced Tuesday.

That three battleground states will likely have undecided Senate and gubernatorial races on Tuesday means that there will be inevitable lawsuits and scrutiny over counting the remaining ballots. And unfortunately, the conspiracy theorists will abound as well.

With Sweeping DeSantis and Rubio Wins, Florida Was a Bloodbath for the Democrats

The Florida Democratic Party is a total and utter disaster.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The instant the polls closed in Florida, the calls were made: Ron DeSantis, projected winner in the governor’s race; Marco Rubio, projected winner in the Senate race. Neither was a surprise, but the Senate race was a bit of a disappointment, because Democrats thought they had a good candidate in Represenative Val Demings, and months ago, the polls were pretty close.

On MSNBC, Alex Wagner, Carlos Curbelo, and David Plouffe remarked on what a train wreck the situation was for the Democrats in Miami-Dade, where the swing from Democrat to Republican was on the order of 20 points, maybe more. Could that be real?

Apparently, yes. Under state party chairman Manny Diaz, the Florida Democratic Party has just vaporized. Politico reported back on October 28 that there were “already plenty of signs that Nov. 8 is going to be a rough night for Florida Democrats.”

Diaz got in the middle of some local races between Democrats, and one intra-party critic, Tom Kennedy, charged that “the party was ‘non-existent’ on Spanish-language media and Democrats are getting ‘eaten up’ in early voting.”

How does a major party—in south Florida—become “non-existent” on Spanish-language media? And how does the national party let that go on?

This is a collapse that’s beyond epic. If the state Democratic Party can ever come back from this, it’ll take a decade. And until it does happen, Democratic presidential candidates can kiss 29 electoral votes goodbye.

TNR Hits the Polls as Georgians Turn Out to Vote

Here's what it looked like in a key state this election.

Megan Varner/Getty Images

Compared to the long lines voters experienced when casting their ballots during the state’s early voting period, voting on Election Day in Georgia appeared to run smoothly—with few notable exceptions. In Fulton County, which encompasses Atlanta, many voters went in and out of polling locations at a brisk pace.

A poll worker at Park Tavern, which had notoriously long lines in the 2020 election, told me that this Election Day had not seen any significant delays. As the surrounding streets clogged with rush hour traffic, a growing number of voters ducked into the polling place after leaving work.

Ashley Adams, an attorney who volunteers with the Election Protection coalition to assist voters with any issues or concerns they may have regarding voting, told me that she had not received many inquiries from voters with questions about casting their ballot. The steady stream of voters, she said, was due to the “pressure” people were feeling to turn out.

“I think that there’s a bit of election fatigue,” Adams said. She predicted that many voters were hoping no race would go to a runoff—a possibility if candidates in the gubernatorial or Senate races do not obtain a majority of the vote.

It’s a case candidates are making as well. As GOP Governor Brian Kemp told supporters at a rally on Monday evening, if he wins outright, “Y’all won’t be getting mailers and phone calls and watching commercials during Thanksgiving.” “It’s going to be great,” he promised.

Maxwell Frost Wins, Becomes First Gen Z and Afro-Cuban Member of Congress

The 25-year-old from Florida is now the youngest member of Congress.

Thomas Simonetti for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost has defeated Republican Calvin Wimbish and won the race for Florida’s 10th congressional district, projects the Associated Press.

Frost leads Wimbish 58.8 percent to 39.7 percent, with 98 percent reporting.

Frost’s victory was not unexpected in the district, but his election still marks history. The newly-elected congressman will be the first Gen Z and first Afro-Cuban member of Congress.

A former campaign staffer first for Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, Frost has been involved in politics for years. In 2018, Frost organized with the ACLU to lobby voters to support a successful Florida ballot initiative that restored voting rights to felons. Thereafter, Frost served as a national organizing director for gun violence prevention organization March For Our Lives, spurred into action after the tragic high school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people and injured another 17.

Frost, a part-time Uber driver, put forth an unapologetically progressive platform. Some of his focus was on big-ticket items including Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, and banning assault weapons. Frost also put out targeted proposals including the Homes for All Act, which would direct the construction of 12 million new affordable housing units, and putting an end to a rule that gives 80 percent of transportation funding to highways and only 20 percent to transit.

While age could have been an inhibitor, the 25-year-old, buoyed by nationwide progressive support, overcame the Democratic establishment. Filling in the seat formerly held by Congresswoman Val Demings, Frost emerged from a crowded primary field of nine other candidates including former Florida representatives Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown, and state Senator Randolph Bracy.

Frost enjoyed support from members of congress including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Jamie Raskin, and figures such as Reverend Jesse Jackson and gun violence activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting.

This piece has been updated.

Becca Balint Will Be Vermont’s First Woman and Openly Gay Representative in Congress

The Democrat has spoken out about her concerns for LGBTQ youth, who have been targeted by state legislatures across the country.

Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Democrat Becca Balint has defeated Republican Liam Madden and won the Vermont at-large congressional race.

Balint’s victory was not unexpected in blue Vermont, but her election still marks history. The newly-elected representative will be the first woman and first openly gay person Vermont sends to Congress.

The seasoned legislator was widely seen as the progressive candidate throughout the primary and election season. Balint has served in Vermont’s state Senate since 2015, and was the first lesbian elected to the chamber. In 2017, she was selected as majority leader of the Democratic caucus, before becoming the first woman to serve as president pro tempore in 2021.

Balint’s campaign focused not only on her time in the state legislature, but on how her personal background has guided her worldviews.

Embroiled in depression as she first came out, Balint sought a therapist who would accept her sexual orientation. “It absolutely saved my life,” she said, “and if it had been handled differently, I honestly don’t know if I would be here.” Years later, she finally told her parents, who offered to take her to a therapist to “fix” her—an offer she refused.

Now, as an elected official, Balint has joined efforts in the state legislature to support transgender youth seeking medical care, and to prohibit conversion therapy.

Balint was born in a U.S. Army hospital in Germany, where her Hungarian Jewish father was stationed at the time. His father, Balint’s grandfather, was killed during the Holocaust, Balint wrote in a personal blog, when he fell behind on a forced march after trying to help another ailing prisoner.

“One ongoing toll of the Holocaust and indeed of all totalitarian regimes…is that we start to doubt our neighbors’ basic humanity. We come to believe it’s safer to keep them at a distance because people can sometimes be so horribly callous,” Balint wrote. “This is the family story I am trying to change. I believe strong neighbors make strong democracy.”