Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans appeared poised to keep control of the upper chamber of Congress early Wednesday morning, as three GOP lawmakers were projected to win re-election races that had been considered toss-ups.
Four other competitive contests featuring Republican incumbents were deemed still too early to call, but that didn’t stop one of them — freshman GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina — from declaring victory in his re-election bid, Fox News reported.
Tillis’ challenger in the swing state, Democrat Cal Cunningham, led in most of the polls during the race but became embroiled in an extramarital sexting scandal last month.
Republicans control the Senate, 53-47, meaning that Democrats need a net gain of four seats to tip the balance of power in their favor.
Two seats held by Republicans — Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona — were projected to go to Democratic former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, respectively.
But those GOP losses were partially offset by Republican former college football coach Tommy Tuberville’s projected victory over Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama.
If Republicans maintain their control of the Senate, they would almost certainly leave McConnell (R-Kentucky) in place as majority leader, after he was projected to have won a seventh term over Democratic challenger Amy McGrath.
McConnell scored major points with Republicans — and infuriated Democrats — by blocking then-President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of appeals court Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and successfully shepherding President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court last month.
Those moves helped increase the court’s conservative majority to 6-3, and potentially cement it in place for decades to come.
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