WASHINGTON (AP) — Months of campaigning are culminating in midterm elections that will decide control of Congress and top governorships. Tuesday’s vote potentially will help shape economic policy, access to abortion and even how elections are held — all while testing the political strength of President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump.
With polls open across the country, neither Biden nor Trump is on the ballot. But key race outcomes will nonetheless be widely read as whether voters approve of the Democratic president’s first two years and if they’re willing to support a Republican Party the former president has increasingly molded in his own image.
Fetterman, Oz in bruising US Senate race in Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Control of the U.S. Senate could depend on whether Pennsylvanians elect Democrat John Fetterman or Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Lt. Gov. Fetterman spent much of the campaign recovering from a stroke while fending off attacks by Oz about his fitness to serve. In their lone debate, Fetterman turned in a rocky debate performance that fueled concern it damaged his chances.
Oz is a smooth-talking and wealthy heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity who just moved from his longtime home in New Jersey. He barely won a primary in which opponents cast him as an out-of-touch Hollywood liberal.
Three races among Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation have taken shape as some of the closer contests in the country this year.
The state’s voters are deciding contests Tuesday that could shift majority control in the U.S. House. Pennsylvania’s delegation has been redistricted twice in recent years.
Two Democratic members of Congress have tough challenges, Matt Cartwright in the Scranton area and Susan Wild in the Lehigh Valley. Another close race is just north of Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania’s slow population growth is causing it to lose a seat in Congress, so the state’s 18-member delegation is falling to 17 members.
Warnock, Walker push for outright Senate victory in Georgia
Georgia voters are ready to settle one of the nation’s marquee midterm contests as they choose whether to reelect Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock to his first full term or replace him with Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
Yet the state’s quirky election law means Tuesday could be just Round 1. Georgia requires a majority to win statewide office, and with polls suggesting a close race and a third-party candidate on the ballot, it’s possible neither Warnock nor Walker will surpass 50%.
That would set up a four-week blitz ahead of a Dec. 6 runoff that could reprise the 2020 election cycle, when two runoffs in Georgia doubled as a national winner-take-all battle for partisan control of the Senate.
Democrats aspire to flip US Senate seat in solid red Ohio
A coveted open seat in the U.S. Senate has sparked a closer-than-expected faceoff to be decided Tuesday between Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance.
Ryan is a 49-year-old 10-term congressman from the blue collar Mahoning Valley. Vance is a 38-year-old venture capitalist and political newcomer.
When GOP Sen. Rob Portman announced he’d be vacating the seat last year, the seat was considered Republicans’ to lose in a state that strongly supported former President Donald Trump twice. But a brutal Republican primary and Ryan’s well-organized, well-funded campaign have made the race competitive for Democrats.
Crucial Arizona Senate race tests Trump-era Democratic gains
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly is looking to hold on to the seat he won for Democrats two years ago, but he faces a vastly different political environment against Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters.
Kelly has distanced himself from Democratic President Joe Biden and plays down his party affiliation. Masters has tried to penetrate Kelly’s independent image, calling him a rubber stamp for Biden who has failed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and allowed inflation to run rampant.
The Arizona race is one of a handful of contests that Republicans targeted in their bid to take control of what is now a 50-50 Senate.
Arizona county’s plan to hand-count ballots blocked by judge
A judge has blocked a rural Arizona county’s plan to hand-count all the ballots in this week’s election. The full hand-count was ordered by Republican officials in Cochise County who have made unfounded claims that vote-counting machines are untrustworthy.
Monday’s ruling from Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley came after a full-day hearing on Friday in which opponents spoke out against the proposal.
The county’s elected Republican attorney and the election director for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs both testified that a full hand-count of early ballots is illegal under state election law.
McGinley also blocked a hand-count of all Election Day ballots. An appeal is expected.
Gov. DeSantis faces voters in a changing Florida
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing voters in a state that is rapidly drifting to the right. His Democratic challenger is Charlie Crist, himself a former Republican governor of the state.
A decisive win for DeSantis would bolster his status as a GOP rising star with potential White House aspirations.
Voters on Tuesday are faced with a choice between DeSantis’ brash brand of culture war politics and Crist’s appeal to moderates.
DeSantis has vastly out fundraised Crist and performed better in polls in the lead-up to an election where he rarely mentioned his opponent by name and instead characterized the race as a fight against the “woke agenda” of liberals.
O’Rourke hopes to upset Texas Gov. Abbott’s bid for 3rd term
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O’Rourke are steering into the finish of one of the most expensive midterm races in the country.
Abbott on Tuesday is seeking a record-tying third term that would strengthen his prospects as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
O’Rourke is seeking an upset that would make him the first Democrat elected governor in Texas since 1990.
Both candidates spent more than $100 million in a race that took on new intensity following the Uvalde school massacre.
O’Rourke was making his third run for office in as many cycles after a narrow loss for U.S. Senate in 2018 and flaming out of the Democratic presidential primary in 2020.
Michigan Gov. Whitmer seeks 2nd term in race vs. GOP’s Dixon
An independent candidate with backing from Democrats is attempting to end the Republican stranglehold on U.S. Senate seats in Utah, hoping to harness the antipathy many voters in the state feel toward former President Donald Trump becoming the GOP’s standard-bearer.
Evan McMullin has spent months attacking second term Republican Sen. Mike Lee and characterizing him as a Trump acolyte who abandoned the U.S. Constitution to assist in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Lee has tried to focus the race on everyday issues such as the cost of living and aimed to appeal to the state’s Republican party roots by making a case about how important he thinks it is for the party to retake the Senate.
South Dakota’s Noem hopes for easy reelection amid ’24 buzz
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is hoping to coast to reelection over Democratic state Rep. Jamie Smith amid speculation she is aiming for higher office in two years.
The 50-year-old Republican vaulted to national prominence in the GOP after she derided government mandates aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Her reelection campaign has focused on her handling of the state’s economy as well as a promise to convince the Legislature to repeal the state’s tax on groceries.
Smith has countered by criticizing Noem’s out-of-state travels as a sign she is more focused on her personal ambition rather than the job at home.
Sarah Sanders aims to go from Trump spokeswoman to governor
Sarah Sanders is poised to make the leap from Donald Trump’s spokeswoman to Arkansas’ next governor.
The former White House press secretary hopes to win the office her father once held and become the first woman elected Arkansas governor.
Sanders, a Republican, is heavily favored against Democratic nominee Chris Jones in the race. They’re trying to succeed Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is leaving office because of term limits.
Sanders would become the most high profile former Trump official in office if she wins the race. Arkansas is a predominantly Republican state where Trump remains popular.