By Alex Santana
Millions of Americans went to the polls on November 6 and as a result the U.S. House of Representative will fall into Democratic hands and the U.S. Senate will remain in Republican control.
Of the 435 seats in the House, there are currently 235 Republicans and 193 democrats and seven vacancies. As of Wednesday afternoon, Democrats have won 222 seats and Republicans won have 196. The remaining races were too close to call.
In the Senate, Republicans currently hold 51 seats while Democrats hold 47 seats. Two Independents, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Angus King of Maine, caucus with the Democrats. As of Wednesday afternoon, Republicans flipped three Democratic seats and lost one incumbent seat. There is a recount occurring in the Florida Senate race with the Republican candidate in the lead against the Democratic incumbent and there will be a runoff in Mississippi where the incumbent is a Republican. Arizona’s race is too close to call and the Republican incumbent did not run for re-election. The 116th Congress beginning on January 3, 2019 and ending on January 3, 2021 will include over 100 women, at least 95 women in the House and 23 women in the Senate, according to NPR. One of the women elected, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, made history as the youngest woman ever elected to the House. The Miami Herald reported Congresswoman-elect Donna Shalala of Florida, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, will be the second-oldest House freshman in American history at the age of 77. Shalala replaces the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban American and Hispanic woman elected to Congress.
As of Wednesday afternoon three Democratic Senate incumbents were ousted. Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley defeated Senator Claire McCaskill, Indiana Republican businessman Mike Braun defeated Senator Joe Donnelly, and North Dakota Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer defeated Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Montana and West Virginia Senators Jon Tester and Joe Manchin both prevailed over their Republican opponents and will serve in the Senate for six more years until 2024. The Arizona Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is too close to call and whoever wins will make history as the first female U.S. Senator for Arizona. Incumbent Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, chose not to run for re-election.
Texas Republican incumbent Senator Ted Cruz prevented Congressman Beto O’Rourke from being the first Democrat elected to state-wide office in over 20 years. Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith will face Democrat and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Epsy in a runoff on November 27th. Senator Dean Heller was the only Republican incumbent to lose his re-election bid. Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn won the open Senate seat in Tennessee vacated by the retiring Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential nominee, won the Utah Senate seat being vacated by 84-year-old Orrin Hatch, the Senate President Pro Tempore and Finance Committee chairman. With his victory Romney will have served as Governor of one state and the Senator of another. Romney served as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 2003-2007 and his father, George W. Romney, served as Governor of Michigan from 1963-1969.
Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA) were some of the Democrats returning to the Senate for six more years. Senator Casey is a 1988 graduate of Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law and Senator Kaine was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 Vice Presidential running mate. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination also won re-election.
In one of the most important swing states in the country Florida’s Senate race between Republican Governor Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is going to a recount. In Florida an automatic recount is triggered when the final margin is less than .5%. The Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday that Scott “holds a 30,239-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson out of more than 8.1 million ballots cast for a difference of 0.38 percent, according to unofficial returns posted by the state Division of Elections.” This is not Scott’s first close election. He was first elected Governor of Florida in 2010 by about 60,000 votes. He won re-election in 2014 against former Governor Charlie Crist by almost 65,000 votes. Nelson has represented the sunshine state in the Senate since 2001 and was previously in the U.S. House of Representatives for over a decade as well as in other state elected positions.
Democrats gained 27 seats in the House as of Wednesday afternoon and are expected to gain closer to 30-35 in total by the time all remaining races are called. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to be elected as the next Speaker of the House, returning to the position she held from 2007 to 2011. The 78-year-old San Francisco Democrat has served as leader of House Democrats for 15 years and is a successful fundraiser for party members. The next House Majority Leader will most likely be current House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, another member of Congress that has served in the people’s house for over three decades. The 79-year-old Hoyer previously served as Majority Leader when Democrats held the majority from 2007 to 2011.
For House Republicans their party leader will most likely be current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is not running for re-election after 20 years in office. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) announced Wednesday he is running for House Minority Leader even if that means going against the 53-year-old McCarthy, a prolific fundraiser and strong ally of President Trump. Current House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), the congressman who was severely wounded in the June 2017 Congressional Republican baseball practice shooting, announced Wednesday he is running for House Minority Whip.
Races for governor also coincided with the midterm elections and Democrats flipped seats in Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin. Republican incumbents were re-elected in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Arizona and South Carolina. Democratic incumbents Andrew Cuomo of New York, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, David Ige of Hawaii and Kate Brown of Oregon were all re-elected. Cuomo’s victory means he will be in the Governor’s mansion in Albany for a total of three terms, the same as his late father, Mario Cuomo. In California, 51-year-old Democratic Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, will succeed legendary Governor Jerry Brown and be in charge of the world’s fifth largest economy. Newsom is just the third lieutenant governor of California in over 70 years to be elected to the Governor’s mansion.
One of the most surprising results of election night was former Florida Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis’ close win over Democrat Mayor Andrew Gillum. Gillum was supported by former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and other popular Democrats. DeSantis won by about 55,000 votes and will continue the conservative agenda of Governor Rick Scott. Florida also elected a Republican State Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and Commissioner of Agriculture although the race for Agriculture Commissioner is apparently going to go through a recount. Among the Governor-elect’s new responsibilities will be to appoint the next three State Supreme Court Justices. The next Lieutenant Governor of Florida, State Representative Jeanette M. Nunez of Miami, will be the first female Cuban American elected to that position.
Another close gubernatorial race that has not yet been called is Georgia. The peach state’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp currently has 50.3% compared to former State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams who has 48.7% Several prominent democrats including former President Obama and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey campaigned for Abrams.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated Wednesday he plans on confirming more nominees to the American judiciary between now and the 2020 election as well as executive and diplomatic positions. Issues that many believe Democrats and Republicans can work together on in the future is the pending farm bill, border security, immigration reform, lowering prescription drug prices, infrastructure and the recently introduced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).