Democrats falling short in bid for control of U.S. Senate

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner participates with Democratic challenger and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in the final debate in the 2020 race for Colorado's U.S. Senate seat at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S

A Democratic drive to win control of the U.S. Senate appeared to fall short, with Democrats picking up only one Republican-held seat while six other races remained undecided early on Wednesday.

Democrats defeated Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona but lost the Alabama seat held by Democratic Senator Doug Jones.

To win the majority in the Senate, Democrats would need to pick up three Republican seats if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is elected president and Senator Kamala Harris wields the tie-breaking vote as vice president.

But the Democratic path to victory narrowed sharply as results poured in and the final outcome may not be known for days, and in some cases, months.

Four Republican incumbents – Joni Ernst of Iowa, Steve Daines of Montana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas – fended off Democratic challenges, according to networks and Edison Research.

Republicans also held onto an open seat in Kansas, where Republican Roger Marshall was declared the winner over Democrat Barbara Bollier.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate long viewed as vulnerable to upset, led Democrat Sara Gideon by several percentage points in a race that Gideon predicted would not be called soon.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina declared victory over his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, while leading by about 95,000 votes. But the race had not been called.

Republicans now hold a 53-47 seat Senate majority. Democrats were projected to maintain control of the 435-seat House of Representatives.

Gardner, a first-term Republican long seen as his party’s most vulnerable Senate incumbent, lost to Hickenlooper in a formerly Republican state where demographic changes have increasingly favored Democrats in recent years, according to projections by television networks and Edison Research.

Democrat Mark Kelly, a former U.S. astronaut who had long dominated the Arizona race, was declared winner while leading McSally by nearly 7 percentage points in the one-time Republican stronghold.

Jones, the most vulnerable Democrat, lost as expected to challenger Tommy Tuberville in the Republican stronghold of Alabama.

Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, rode to victory after presiding over the Senate confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Cornyn was declared the winner against challenger M.J. Hegar in a state that had appeared to be drifting toward Democrats. Republican Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won re-election in Kentucky, as expected.

All told, 35 of the Senate’s 100 seats were up for election.

First-term Republican incumbents also faced challenges in Alaska and in a second Georgia Senate race. Democrat Gary Peters was on the defensive in Michigan.

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