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Citing a “ partisan deadlock, ” Republican Senator Rob Portman has said he will not seek re-election in 2022.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican deeply connected with the former party, announced Monday that he would not stand for re-election in 2022, expressing frustration at the deep polarization and partisanship in Washington.

“It has become increasingly difficult to break the partisan deadlock and make progress on substantive politics, and this has contributed to my decision,” Portman said in a statement revealing what was considered a surprise announcement so soon after the last election.

Mr. Portman, former senior trade and budget official in the George W. Bush administration, was once considered a conservative mainstay, but as his party has shifted to the right in recent years, it has become one of the few centrist Republican senators interested in making bipartisan deals. He was one of the lawmakers tasked with pushing through the new North American trade deal in 2019 and was part of a bipartisan coalition that pushed House and Senate leaders late last year to pass a emergency measure in the event of a pandemic after months of delay.

His decision to step down illustrates how difficult it has become for more mainstream Republicans to navigate the current political environment, with hard-right allies of former President Donald J. Trump insisting that Republican members Congress either on their side or face primary competitions.

Mr. Portman called it “a difficult time to be in public service.”

“We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means that too few people are actively seeking to find common ground,” he said. he declares.

Mr. Portman, who also served for 12 years in the House, is said to have sought his third term in the Senate. He said he has made his decision public now to give others time to prepare for a statewide race.

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Senate majority balanced as lost re-election race ends in Georgia

Senate control was on the line in Georgia on Friday after Republican Senator David Perdue fell just short of the majority of votes he needed to win re-election, paving the way for a January runoff in January. a rapidly changing state.

With the Senate tightly divided, double meetings scheduled just two weeks before inauguration day will almost certainly determine which party controls the chamber, as well as the fate of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda if he succeeds in making it happen. win the White House. , as expected.

Faced with such extraordinarily high stakes, the two parties quickly positioned themselves for a nine-week end-of-year sprint that could cost an additional $ 100 million as Republicans and Democrats contested for a pair of crucial seats and won. disputed the result of the presidential election. The second round promised to place a rapidly changing Georgia at the center of the country’s political melee and test the extent of emerging Democrat strength in what was once a Republican stronghold in the Deep South.

Georgia’s special Senate election has been set for a run-off since Tuesday, when the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, became the top two vote holders in a crowded field in vying to replace the retired senator. Johnny Isakson.

But Republicans had hoped they could avoid a second such contest in Mr. Perdue’s case. By the time his race was called on Friday night after an extended tally, however, Mr Perdue had a slim lead over Jon Ossoff, his Democratic challenger, and neither candidate claimed the majority of votes required by Georgian law for avoid revenge.

Two more Senate races, in North Carolina and Alaska, had yet to be called Friday night. But the Republicans led in both and expected to win, which would put them at 50 seats against the Democrats’ 48.

If Democrats won both Georgia seats, they would draw the Senate 50-50, effectively taking control of the chamber if Mr Biden won the presidency, given the vice president’s power to vote for a breach of the Senate. equality. But it was a tall order in a state with deep Conservative roots, and Republicans were reasonably confident they could hold on to at least one of the seats necessary to deny Democrats a majority, especially if turnout in January was collapsing.

For Democrats, who have struggled in the past to convince voters to participate in the second round, it will be a bank shot attempt to harness total control of Washington after an otherwise disappointing wave of congressional elections. They were already so preoccupied with the task that in Washington, President Nancy Pelosi urged Democratic lawmakers in a private call Thursday to deal with their message in the coming weeks or risk alienating swing voters. in Georgia.

If Mr Biden wins, as it became increasingly likely on Friday, Republicans will be motivated to deny him a majority, retaining considerable power to shape at least the first two years of his tenure and thwarting liberal ambitions. A super PAC associated with Susan B. Anthony List, the anti-abortion group, has already pledged Thursday to spend $ 4 million on Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler.

Regardless of the end result, the second round was a clear sign of the growing power of Democrats in Georgia. After years of prediction, the mobilization of black voters and the move towards Democrats by educated white women in suburban Atlanta signaled that Georgia’s status as a true battlefield state may finally arrive.

“The change has happened in Georgia,” Mr. Ossoff said at a rally Friday, “and Georgia is part of the change coming to America.”

Mr. Perdue’s campaign immediately showed he would seek to nationalize the race, claiming that a vote for Mr. Ossoff would be “a vote to give power to Chuck Schumer and the radical Democrats in Washington.” Republicans were prepared to try to exploit the grievance of President Trump’s staunchest supporters, hoping the president’s baseless fraud allegations and a negative reaction to his likely loss could propel them to victory in January.

With Mr. Trump defying the election results, it was difficult to predict how involved he might be in the Senate races. But early Friday morning, he implied in a tweet that the Democrats were still trying to claim power through nefarious means so that they could reverse Republican policies.

“End the filibuster, ‘Life’, 2A, and pack up and run the court.” The presidency becomes even more important, ”he wrote. “We will win!”

Ms Loeffler, for her part, ran to court her support, repeatedly tweeting her support for the president and donating to his cause.

“Pray for four more years of @realDonaldTrump!” she wrote in a tweet.

For all national connotations, the races could also be a defining moment for Georgia, a battle between the New South represented by Atlanta and its increasingly diverse suburbs and the Old South dominated by rural and business conservatives.

Mr Perdue, 70, a former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General who beat his Democratic opponent by eight points in 2014, initially had to have an easy path to reelection.

But he was weighed down by voter dissatisfaction with Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus – and his own missteps. He faced charges of anti-Semitism after running a Facebook ad that widened the nose of Mr. Ossoff, who is Jewish, a move his campaign blamed on a salesperson. He struggled to keep up with Mr. Ossoff’s prodigious fundraising, which exploded in mid-October after Mr. Perdue publicly mocked Senator Kamala Harris’s first name, his colleague in the Senate for nearly four years and the Democratic candidate for vice-presidency. President.

“Kah-MAH-lah or KAH-mah-lah or Kamamboamamla – I don’t know,” he said at a rally for Mr. Trump in Macon. Mr Perdue’s campaign said he “just mispronounced” the first name of Ms Harris, a black woman of Indian and Jamaican descent. Mr Ossoff called this intimidation and suggested it was insensitive to racism.

As in his 2014 run, Mr. Perdue has presented himself as a Washington underdog, campaigning in a denim jacket rather than the expensive bespoke suits he wears in the Senate. The deal was more difficult to do this time around given his six-year record there. But he tied his campaign tightly to another foreigner, Mr. Trump, and kept going.

Mr Perdue criticized Mr Ossoff as being too extreme for the state, twisting many Democratic positions on police, health care and a range of other issues to try to scare moderate voters on his side. He praised Republicans’ tax and regulatory cuts, as well as popular programs approved by Congress to help unemployed Americans and small businesses weather the pandemic.

A good sign for Republicans heading into the second round, Mr. Perdue outclassed Mr. Trump in Tuesday’s vote, and Mr. Ossoff followed Mr. Biden.

Mr Ossoff, 33, tried to portray Mr Perdue as a special interest flunky who let Georgia down in times of crisis and put health care at risk by pushing to repeal the care law affordable. Citing reports that Mr Perdue was trading stocks at the start of the pandemic, Mr Ossoff accused the senator of being more interested in his own financial success than that of the Georgians.

“Retirement is approaching for Senator David Perdue,” Ossoff said Friday. “A senator who saw fit to continue to attack our health care in the midst of a pandemic. A senator who told us that this disease that claimed the lives of a quarter of a million people was no more deadly than the regular flu while he was looking after himself.

The special election followed a similar thematic course, but pits two very different candidates against each other. Dr Warnock, 51, who became the frontrunner after Tuesday’s vote, is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. once led.

Ms. Loeffler, 49, is a businesswoman and the richest member of the Senate. She overcame a tough challenge from Rep. Doug Collins, a fellow Republican. She invested more than $ 20 million of her own fortune in the race and had the backing of the state’s Republican governor and the Senate Republicans’ campaign apparatus, who believed Ms Loeffler’s record as a businesswoman could win back independent voters in the suburbs, especially women.

But the fight to eliminate Mr. Collins has grown bitter and personal, pushing Ms. Loeffler to the far right. She has courted the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theorist who won a House seat in Georgia on Tuesday, and has taken other positions that may be difficult to return in January even as she tries to redirect the campaign around her success as a businesswoman. and record in Washington in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

By Thursday she had already started attacking Dr Warnock, giving a preview of a playbook who will attempt to exploit his rhetoric from years in the pulpit and liberal political positions to portray him as a pastor in the mold of the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., the former pastor of former President Barack Obama, whose ” God damn America ”A sermon was used to attack the former president.

But Republicans are starting late. Consumed for much of the year by retaining Mr Collins, Ms Loeffler left Dr Warnock largely untouched as he presented himself to voters on purely positive terms as a pastor and healer.

Anticipating a barrage of attacks on the horizon, Dr Warnock used his first second-round ad, a parody of a campaign-style attack ad, released Thursday in an attempt to convince voters of what was to come.

“Brace yourself Georgia, the negative ads are coming,” he says. “Kelly Loeffler doesn’t want to say why she wants to get rid of health care in the middle of a pandemic, so she’s going to try to scare you with lies about me.

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As his reelection path narrows, Trump turns to the courts

As his political trajectory narrowed, President Trump turned Wednesday to courts and procedural maneuvers in a last ditch effort to avoid defeat in the handful of states that will decide the outcome of the hotly contested election.

The president’s campaign intervened in the Supreme Court in a case challenging Pennsylvania’s plan to count ballots received up to three days after election day. The campaign said it would also take action in Michigan to end it while continuing its demands for better access for the observers it sent to monitor election committees for signs of wrongdoing in the country. ballot counting, modeled on a similar lawsuit she was pursuing in Nevada.

On Wednesday evening, Mr Trump’s team added Georgia to its list of legal targets, asking for a court order imposing strict deadlines in Chatham County following allegations by a Republican poll observer that a small number of ineligible ballots could be counted in one place. .

In Wisconsin, which along with Michigan was called up on Wednesday for its Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the president’s campaign announced it would call for a recount.

These steps marked Mr. Trump’s determination to follow through on his long-standing threats to campaign aggressively after Election Day to overturn any results not in his favor and continue his baseless claims that the result was rigged.

But it was not clear what effect any of his efforts would have. In Georgia, the trial is about 53 ballots, and another case in Pennsylvania is about less than 100.

The lawsuits appeared intended at least in part to give legal weight to a fight Mr. Trump waged widely on Twitter and amplified during an overnight appearance at the White House, where he falsely claimed to have won and claimed without evidence that his opponents were trying to steal the elections.

As the legal team began to stake their ground, campaign surrogates, aides and the president himself sought to create a public relations drumbeat to promote this theme. Mr Trump had long indicated he would make this argument in the widely anticipated event that the first leads for him on Election Day faded as a record number of mail-in ballots – disproportionately used by Democrats this year – tipped the scales in favor of Mr. Biden.

With Mr. Biden in a strong position and the tally trend in his favor, the odds of the outcome being determined in court diminished on Wednesday. But the day nonetheless had some echoes of the 2000 recount in Florida in which Al Gore unsuccessfully challenged a result that gave George W. Bush the presidency.

In a scene reminiscent of the so-called Brooks Brothers Riot protest on behalf of Mr. Bush that temporarily halted counting in Miami-Dade that year, a crush of Trump supporters stormed a counting office on Wednesday. in Detroit with cries of “Stop the count.”

But this year’s legal clashes were breaking out in multiple states and, in most cases, it was Republicans who appeared to be fighting from behind, a disadvantageous opening stance, though Trump’s aides hoped it would change. again as the counts continued. to evolve.

Throughout the day, Republicans have claimed they are only looking to make sure the recorded tally does not include votes that shouldn’t have counted, rather than repeating the president’s claims that any counting Should have stopped on election day when early and incomplete results showed him a head start.

“If we count all the legal ballots, the president wins,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said on a morning conference call with reporters.

Mr Stepien took a more aggressive stance later in the day, making an unreasonable attempt to declare Mr Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania even as the count continued.

The Trump campaign sent Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Eric Trump, one of his sons, to Philadelphia to make sure, as Mr. Stepien sought to present without any evidence, that ” magic pallets’ of mail ballots for Mr.. Biden did not appear suddenly and that “this margin of victory that we are certain is not stolen by Democrats and stolen by Joe Biden.”

Early Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump appeared before supporters and reporters at the White House to say, “We’re going to go to the US Supreme Court, we want all votes to stop,” a statement that drew criticism bipartite.

His campaign team went to the Supreme Court on Wednesday to file a petition to take over perhaps the most high-profile of electoral cases. In that dispute, the Pennsylvania Republicans had sought to prevent state officials from moving forward with their plan to count all postal postmarked ballots on or before November 3 for three days after the polling day. The state’s legal deadline for receiving ballots is typically 8 p.m. on polling day.

Republicans tried unsuccessfully to appeal their case against the time limit extension to the Supreme Court on two occasions, but on the second occasion, three justices – Samuel A. Alito Jr., Bret M. Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas – did indicated that they would be willing to reconsider their arguments in the post-election day period when their most recent colleague, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, was installed in her role in court.

The court could, in theory, decide to take up the case, although this is a rare decision. And Republicans would need to gather more evidence to show they were wronged by the time limit extension before filing a new petition to initiate court.

Democrats described the Republican efforts as part of a desperate attempt to reverse a trajectory that threatened their grip on the White House.

“We are winning the election,” Biden’s senior campaign adviser Bob Bauer said on a call to reporters Wednesday, “and we will protect the election.”

He said for the Biden campaign and the Democratic Party, that meant responding to legal challenges from Mr. Trump and Republicans, wherever they occur. The national party did so on Wednesday night in another case the presidential campaign brought to Pennsylvania seeking to reject votes from citizens who had been given an opportunity to resolve issues that resulted in their mail-in ballots being rejected.

A federal judge appeared to respond to Republican claims in a related lawsuit – affecting about 93 provisional ballots in Montgomery County outside of Philadelphia – with skepticism.

“Wasn’t the legislative intention of the law we are talking about to emancipate, and not to deprive the voters?” Judge Timothy J. Savage, appointed by former President George W. Bush, called on Republican Council, Thomas Breth. The judge later reprimanded Mr. Breth for referring to “this game of denial of the right to vote”.

A state court dismissed a lawsuit asking for more access to observe the counting of the ballots.

The prosecution of the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania drew a harsh rebuke from Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, who called the legal machinations “just plain bogus.”

“These attempts to overthrow the democratic process are simply outrageous,” Wolf said at a press conference Wednesday evening. “We will fight against every attempt to deprive voters of their voting rights.”

Across the legal effort, the Trump campaign seemed to be trying to climb an escalator at times.

He found himself in the awkward position of seeking to stop counting in some states – where he wanted to limit Mr. Biden’s ability to create more comfortable margins – even as he sought recounts in others, where he hoped to reduce Mr. Biden’s margins.

And in many cases, he was unsure whether his measures would win enough votes to fill the loopholes Mr. Biden seemed to be digging, which numbered in the thousands as opposed to the hundreds that separated Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore in Florida for 20 years. since.

“If the margin is over 1,000 votes, it’s really tough,” said Benjamin L. Ginsberg, a longtime Republican election lawyer. “If it’s less than 10,000 votes, it’s an almost unsanitary mountain.”

The Trump campaign has identified Nevada, where Mr. Biden’s margin seemed relatively slim on Wednesday night, as another battleground for the vote count. The state allows any losing candidate to request a recount.

While there is no automatic trigger in Wisconsin for a recount, any losing candidate can force one if the run stays within a percentage point. With roughly 3.2 million ballots in the state, that means any margin of around 32,000 could force a recount. On Wednesday, Mr. Biden was declared the winner in Wisconsin by a margin of about 21,000 votes.

But a prominent Republican in the state, former Gov. Scott Walker, seemed skeptical that the recount would lead to a different outcome for Mr. Trump.

“After the 2011 recount of the WI Supreme Court race, there was a swing of 300 votes,” Walker written on twitter. A 2016 recount triggered by a request from Jill Stein of the Green Party found only 131 votes. “Like I said, 20,000 is a big hurdle,” he wrote.

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Mitch McConnell wins re-election as Republicans fight to maintain their majority.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader known for his non-prisoner tactics, was elected to a seventh term on Tuesday, defeating Amy McGrath, a Democrat who struggled to gain traction despite a wave financial support from supporters of his party. the nation.

Mr McConnell campaigned on how he had used his position as one of Washington’s most powerful figures to bring benefits to Kentucky – a constant theme throughout his decades in the Senate – and portrayed Ms McGrath as too liberal and inexperienced for the conservative state. .

“I’m giving Kentucky the opportunity to beat above their weight and have some big wins that we wouldn’t otherwise get if we had a rookie Senator,” McConnell said in a statement in the final days of his appointment. campaign, noting that he had “led” over $ 17 billion to Kentucky projects since his last election.

His victory came as Mr McConnell fought to retain the title of Majority Leader, which was under threat as Democrats attempted to claim control of the Senate in competitive races across the country.

With the next president’s ability to continue his Senate-controlled agenda, Republicans are on defense in an increasingly close battle, trying to hold back a wave of well-funded Democratic challengers across the map, including in reliable conservative states. .

Republicans currently hold a Senate majority by a 53-47 margin. A net gain of three seats would put Democrats in control if former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the presidency. If President Trump wins re-election, positioning Vice President Mike Pence to vote a tie in the Senate, Democrats would have to win four seats to win a majority.

Democrats believe they’re already on track to win Arizona and Colorado, and are looking for a half-dozen more starting with North Carolina, Maine and Iowa. And with the state’s two Republican senators in jeopardy, Georgia looms as an opportunity for recovery. Democratic strategists concede that Alabama Democrat Sen. Doug Jones is likely to lose his seat and are keeping a close watch on Democrat Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, who faces a tall order.

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Fighting Senate re-election battle, Doug Jones does it his way

In 2017 Mr Jones introduced himself as a figure in conciliation, and now campaigning he brags about the legislation he sponsored with Republicans and takes pains to note that he votes with the Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, also often as he votes with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. He launched his re-election around the idea of ​​“One Alabama”, pledging not to lead a campaign that was “us against them or good against evil”.

But public polls showed Mr Jones was following Mr Tuberville, who has kept a low profile on the election trail, in low double digits. And as he overtakes former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential candidate, Mr Jones would need a significant number of Republicans to share their tickets in a state where Mr Trump has won by 28 points in 2016.

“Alabama remains a deeply Republican state,” said David Hughes, professor of political science and pollster at Auburn University in Montgomery. “While Doug Jones has done a really good job positioning himself to surpass those traditional expectations, there is still a very steep hill to climb to cross the hill as the winner.

His grim re-election chances, coupled with his close relationship with Mr Biden, fueled speculation that he could be hired as attorney general if the Democratic presidential candidate defeats Mr Trump. At a recent rally in Leeds, he told voters how Mr Biden, who practically addressed the crowd, called him late one night in 2017 to encourage him to run for the Senate.

“He said, ‘Doug, you have an opportunity,’” Mr. Jones recalls. “’You have an opportunity with your background, your story, your compassion, to try to help people. You have the opportunity to redeem the soul of Alabama. ”

But Mr Jones, for now, is convinced that the only perch in Washington that interests him is the Senate.