Our live coverage of the 2022 midterm elections has moved. You can find the latest news and results here.
The chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Bill Gates pushed back on allegations of misconduct from Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Blake Masters, the Republican National Committee, and the Republican State Party of Arizona on Friday night.
"The suggestion by the Republican National Committee that there is something untoward going on here in Maricopa County is absolutely false and again, is offensive to these good elections workers,” he said.
On Friday night the RNC and the Republican Party of Arizona tweeted a statement criticizing the process in Maricopa County, and demanding that the county require "around-the-clock shifts of ballot processing" until all of the votes are counted.
Addressing the specific accusations from the RNC statement, Gates said “I would prefer that if there are concerns that they have, that they communicate those to us here. I'm a Republican. Three of my colleagues on the board are Republicans. Raise these issues with us and discuss them with us, as opposed to making these baseless claims.”
“Let the count continue on and at the end, if they have issues they choose to take to court, they have every right to do that, and we’ll let that process play through.” Gates added.
Responding to claims that the count is “taking too long,” Gates said the county’s pace is in line with previous years.
Tabulation concerns: Gates also responded to an assertion from Masters that the county had mixed up uncounted ballots with counted ballots and should "wipe the slate clean" and start counting all over again.
In an interview Friday with Fox News's Tucker Carlson, Masters said that on "at least two occasions," the county mixed up uncounted ballots placed in a secure drop box after they were not able to be processed on-site because of technical glitches, with ballots that had already been counted.
Gates said that there were two vote centers where ballots "co-mingled" -– but said that the county has a process to separate them out.
And addressing the suggestion from Masters that the county should wipe the slate clean and start counting over again, Gates said that “is simply not allowed for under Arizona law.”
The voting tabulator glitches in Maricopa County on Election Day have become fodder for right-wing conspiracy theories.
CNN projected Friday night that Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly would hold his seat.
Maricopa County official speaks with CNN:
Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton will defeat Republican Kelly Cooper to win Arizona's 4th Congressional District, CNN projects.
The win would be a hold for the Democratic Party.
CNN projects Democrats now have 203 of the 218 seats needed to control the House.
CNN projects Republicans have 211 seats.
Democrats did better than the historical average in this midterm election, CNN's John King said Friday night.
But even so, if Democrats hold the Senate while Republicans control the House, it will be complicated for President Joe Biden to advance his agenda, King says.
CNN has not yet projected who will win control of the Senate or the House.
Watch below for CNN's John King's analysis:
Democrat Adrian Fontes will win Arizona’s secretary of state race, CNN projects, and defeat Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem.
Finchem is one of Arizona’s most strident backers of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Finchem, a self-proclaimed member of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, has called the 2020 election “irredeemably compromised,” co-sponsored a bill that would’ve allowed the legislature to reject election results and attended Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 (but he’s denied he participated in the riot).
Fontes had called Finchem’s ideas “dangerous” and shortly after announcing his campaign called the state representative a “traitor clown.”
Arizona’s secretary of state serves as next in line to the governor, as the state doesn’t have a lieutenant governor.
The race had been one of the most closely watched contests for state election chief in the country, and national Democratic groups spent heavily to keep the open seat in their party’s column – as Finchem outraised Fontes.
The current officeholder, Democrat Katie Hobbs, ran for Arizona governor this year.
Fontes oversaw the 2020 election in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix. But he lost his reelection bid as county recorder that year after facing criticism for some of the changes he made to the county’s procedures during the pandemic.
The latest results from Maricopa County are “not what the Republicans needed,” CNN’s John King said Friday night.
Shortly after the new batch was released, CNN projected that Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly will win against Republican Blake Masters.
“When the new votes come in, you have to meet your target because every time new votes come in, there’s a smaller pool left to count. So you need to meet or exceed your target if you’re the trailing candidate,” King said.
In Maricopa County, Arizona's most populated, Democrat Katie Hobbs now has 667,833 votes to Republican Kari Lake’s 607,359 votes.
Lake’s vote count is competitive, King said. “But if you’re trailing you need a bigger percentage than that.”
After the latest batch of Maricopa County votes, Hobbs has increased her lead state-wide, King noted.
But as more vote counts are released, it’s still mathematically possible for Lake to make up the difference, he said.
Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly will win a full six-year term, CNN projects, defeating Republican Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who was backed by former President Donald Trump and had repeated some of his falsehoods about the 2020 election.
The win by Kelly, who was elected in 2020 to fill the term of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, is a critical victory that edges Democrats one step closer to their goal of maintaining control of the US Senate – which would be a stunning feat given the low approval ratings of President Joe Biden and the unfavorable economic climate that seemed to be driving momentum toward the GOP.
With Kelly’s win in Arizona, Democrats will hold 49 seats and Republicans will hold 49. With the Arizona seat in their column, Democrats would need to notch just one more seat to hold the majority in the upper chamber, following their pickup in Pennsylvania where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, defeated Trump-backed Mehmet Oz in the contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. (The Senate is currently divided 50-50, but Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie breaking vote).
Both parties are still eyeing an incredibly close race in Nevada where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general. Democrats are also defending a seat in Georgia, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are headed to a December 6 runoff, CNN projects.
Control of the US House still hangs in the balance, but it is clear that even if Republicans win a majority, it will be a far more slender advantage than GOP leaders had hoped.
Kelly entered the 2022 cycle well positioned to withstand the headwinds facing Democrats -- even in a purple state like Arizona that Joe Biden narrowly won -- because of his formidable fundraising and unique personal brand as a retired astronaut, a Navy veteran and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords.
As the votes were counted in Arizona, Masters’ campaign team had hoped that an unusually large tranche of mail-in ballots that were dropped off at polling locations on Election Day would favor Republicans. Those ballots in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, took longer to count than those cast in person on Tuesday because officials had to verify signatures on the ballot envelopes.
In a call with reporters on Friday afternoon, Masters campaign advisers argued that Masters had a path to victory. “We always knew it was going to be a close race,” one campaign officials said. “Smart observers looking at this race know it is entirely too close to call. It’s probably going to come down to 10,000 votes either way. And we feel good, we have a path.”
But ultimately as the tallies continued, Kelly opened a lead that Masters could not overcome.
Earlier in the race, Masters, a first-time candidate, was able to navigate the GOP primary gauntlet with significant financial backing from conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel, his former boss. He appealed to Republicans by promising to prioritize immigration issues, but also by echoing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. In one campaign video released last year, he said he believed Trump won.
Masters then appeared to modulate his tone about the 2020 election results as well as the conservative stances he had sought out during the primary on abortion – in what initially seemed like an effort to appeal to broader swath of the Arizona electorate. (Though Republicans comprise a plurality in Arizona, independents make up about a third of the electorate and often sway close elections).
After his primary victory in August, Masters scrubbed his website of language that included the false claim that the election was stolen. Under questioning from the moderator during a debate with Kelly, Masters conceded that he had not seen evidence of fraud in the 2020 vote counting or election results in a way that would have changed the outcome. In that debate and on the trail, Kelly had argued that the “wheels” could “come off our democracy” if election deniers like Masters were elected.
But Masters seemed to reverse course after receiving a phone call from Trump urging him to “go stronger” on election denialism, a conversation that was captured in a Fox documentary. In the final week of the campaign, Masters told CNN’s Kyung Lah he didn’t believe moderates were bothered by his comments about the 2020 election, insisting that voters were far more focused on their concerns about inflation, crime and the border.
Throughout the campaign, Kelly portrayed Masters as an extremist, who would jeopardize abortion rights, as well as Social Security and Medicare. In a state where lawmakers passed a new ban on abortion at 15 weeks earlier this year – and where there are legal efforts underway to ban abortion in almost all cases – Kelly’s campaign kept a relentless focus on Masters’ anti-abortion stances.
Masters had said he would support a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a proposal that was advanced by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. That bill includes exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother.
CNN analysts break down the latest numbers:
The victories are a hold for the Democratic Party.
CNN now projects Democrats have 202 of the 218 seats needed to control the House.
CNN projects Republicans have 211 seats.
Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo will defeat Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, CNN projects.
Sisolak issued a statement conceding the race.
"While votes are still coming in – and we need every ballot tallied and every voice heard – it appears we will fall a percentage point or so short of winning," Sisolak said. "Obviously that is not the outcome I want, but I believe in our election system, in democracy and honoring the will of Nevada voters."
In his concession statement, Sisolak also voiced his support for fellow Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto, who is locked in a tight race against Republican candidate Adam Laxalt.
Nevada has been a battleground state since the early 1990s, but Joe Biden narrowly clinched victory in the Silver State in 2020 despite a significant effort by Donald Trump, particularly in Nevada’s rural areas. Democrats have made gains in competitive races in recent years by relying, in part, on turning out working-class voters and Latinos, two key constituencies in a state that is heavily reliant on tourism as well as the hospitality and service industries.
But those two voter blocs were among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic, which sent unemployment in Nevada soaring to 30% in April of 2020 – the highest in the nation and more than twice the US unemployment rate at that time. The state’s workers then faced a double hit as inflation rose and gas prices topped $5 a gallon in a state where many people must drive long distances to work.
That created an especially sour mood among voters as Sisolak embarked on his reelection campaign. Though the Democratic governor touted the recovery in the state’s labor market, Lombardo argued that Sisolak was painting a distorted picture of Nevadans’ economic struggles, because many Nevadans are still underemployed, he said. Lombardo also accused Sisolak of crushing businesses in the state with Covid-19 restrictions and onerous regulations. He said Sisolak was too slow to reopen schools and businesses, slowing the state’s recovery. But the Democratic governor pushed back by stating his primary focus was to “save lives.”
Lombardo was one of the rare GOP candidates backed by both Trump and the Republican establishment. During the general election, he, at times, sought to keep his distance from Trump as he tried to win over moderate and independent voters. During a debate with Sisolak, Lombardo said he wouldn’t describe Trump as a “great” president and said he did not agree with Trump’s false assertions that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
But Sisolak suggested that Lombardo was giving different answers to different audiences. He also relentlessly attacked Lombardo’s shifts on abortion, which is protected in Nevada up to 24 weeks by a 1990 voter referendum. Lombardo argued that Nevada’s current law should stay in place, but Sisolak noted that he had changed his position several times during the course of the campaign. In May, for example, Lombardo told a columnist he would support sending voters a referendum moving the 24-week limit to 13 weeks. But he later said he had thought more about that potential change and no longer supported it. Still, Sisolak portrayed his Republican opponent as a threat to women’s reproductive rights.
Sisolak did not invite Biden to campaign with him in the final stretch, but he also argued the president was being unfairly blamed for inflation, as well as problems that he inherited from Trump.