Nov. 15, 2022 US election coverage

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 7:17 AM ET, Wed November 16, 2022
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2:42 p.m. ET, November 15, 2022

McCarthy wins GOP nomination for speaker, with 31 Republicans voting against him

From Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy talks with reporters before heading into House Republican caucus leadership elections in the US Capitol Visitors Center on November 15, in Washington, DC.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy talks with reporters before heading into House Republican caucus leadership elections in the US Capitol Visitors Center on November 15, in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has won his party’s nomination for speaker, beating conservative challenger Rep. Andy Biggs in a 188 - 31 vote, according to multiple sources in the room.

It was a secret ballot, and McCarthy only needed a simple majority. 

While Biggs’ challenge was always seen as a long shot, the number of Republicans voting for him shows how much work McCarthy has to do to win over holdouts between now and January, when he will need to win a majority of the entire House. 

Remember: A week after Election Day, CNN has still not yet projected whether Republicans will win the House. Republicans are closing in on the 218 seats needed for a House majority, but there are several races yet to be called.

But McCarthy was confident he would win a majority of House GOP votes on Tuesday to lead his conference – and that he will earn in January the 218 votes necessary to hold the speaker’s gavel.

Three House Republicans — Kat Cammack of Florida, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania — nominated McCarthy for leader, arguing that he has worked harder than anyone, and that party unity is the only path to victory. 

Biggs, a former chair of the House Freedom Caucus, announced on Newsmax on Monday night that he would run against McCarthy, while acknowledging it would be “tough” to beat someone who has “raised a lot of money” to elect his colleagues.

2:32 p.m. ET, November 15, 2022

Georgia runoff ad spending tops $16 million so far

From CNN's David Wright

Ad money is pouring into Georgia for the Dec. 6 runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, even with lowered stakes and control of the Senate already decided. 

Candidates and groups from both parties have combined to book over $16 million in advertising for the runoff — including spending so far and future reservations — and Democrats have a significant advantage, spending $12.2 million to $3.9 million from Republicans as of Tuesday. 

Warnock, the incumbent Democrat, leads all advertisers with over $6 million in ad spending so far. And his campaign is well positioned for a runoff, reporting about $10.5 million in cash on hand as of Oct. 19, in his final FEC report before the midterm elections. 

Meanwhile Walker, his GOP challenger, has spent about $2.7 million on ads for the runoff so far, while his campaign had about $5.4 million in cash on hand as of its last report. 

The other significant spending so far comes from two Democratic groups — Georgia Honor, a super PAC funded by top group Senate Majority PAC, has spent about $4.8 million so far, while American Bridge has spent about $1.3 million. 

1:26 p.m. ET, November 15, 2022

What GOP members are saying about current leaders

From CNN's Manu Raju, Morgan Rimmer, Ted Barrett and Shawna Mizelle

US Sen. Josh Hawley talks to reporters on Monday.
US Sen. Josh Hawley talks to reporters on Monday. (CNN)

The midterm results, which allowed Democrats to keep their Senate majority, have caused some Republicans to openly question who should lead the party moving forward ahead of leadership elections. 

Hawley says McConnell can’t take GOP back to the majority

Sen. Josh Hawley told CNN’s Manu Raju that "clearly what we're doing isn't working" to become the majority party.

“It hasn't been working for a long time,” he said. “And I think you look at independent voters, I mean, we gave them nothing, no alternative. That was the decision by leadership. They didn't want to have an agenda.”

Hawley added he’d vote for Sen. Rick Scott if he challenged Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for leader, and reiterated that he believes the leadership elections should be delayed until after the Georgia runoff. 

Cruz on leadership elections: We need a leader who "doesn't roll over immediately"

Sen. Ted Cruz criticized Senate GOP leadership for “capitulating to Democrats” during the last two years, sharply criticizing their messaging strategy during this cycle. 

“I believe we should have a leader that actually listens to the conference, and that is willing to stand and fight, doesn't roll over immediately,” said Cruz. 

“Our current leadership believes the way you win elections is that you don't stand for anything, you don't have an agenda, you don't have a plan. Instead, that the only thing you stand up and say is ‘Well, I'm not a Democrat. So vote for me.’ You know what? Election Day showed we need to be more than just not a Democrat,” he said.

Cruz said it would be “utterly insane” to hold leadership elections tomorrow, before a postmortem of the election results.

“I'll tell you this, I believe if we don't delay the election, I think it is very likely that we will see someone run against Mitch McConnell,” he added.

Ex-Trump chief of staff says it’s time for RNC chair to move on

Mick Mulvaney, former acting chief of staff to President Donald Trump, told CNN's Kate Bolduan that he is not a fan of Ronna McDaniel running for reelection as chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

"We got along well when I worked in the White House and I have no complaints about her personally. But we have a track record of losing with her in charge. Again, we lost in 2018. We lost in 2020. We didn't win like we should have last week," Mulvaney said on Tuesday. 

Mulvaney's comments come amid reports that McDaniel told RNC members during a conference call on Monday that she intends to seek reelection to another term, according to people familiar with the call. 

Thune expects "candid conversation" at GOP lunch

Senate Republican Whip John Thune said he expects a “candid conversation” when members of the GOP conference meet for lunch Tuesday to assess why they had lackluster election results and to begin the process of deciding who their elected leadership team will be for the next Congress.   

“I expect leaders will be able to make their voices heard like we always do. But I also expect a lot of our members — who tend in most cases to be vocal at these lunches — to be vocal today. We’ll see where it goes,” Thune told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it’s good. We need these candid conversations, certainly within the family as we think about charting the future, learning from the past, being informed by the past, but getting ready for the future.” 

Thune also said he hoped former President Donald Trump would have waited until after the Georgia Senate runoff to announce another presidential election bid, which he is expected to do tonight.  

11:31 a.m. ET, November 15, 2022

Republican Adam Laxalt concedes in US Senate race in Nevada

From CNN's Dan Merica

Republican Adam Laxalt called Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to concede, he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Moving forward, we need to better adjust to our new election laws or we need to work to fix them. But I am confident that any challenge of this election would not alter the ultimate outcome. That is why this morning I called Catherine Cortez Masto to congratulate her on her win,” Laxalt said.

See his tweet:

11:24 a.m. ET, November 15, 2022

Rep. Clyburn says he plans to stay in leadership but not run for the top job

From CNN's Manu Raju and Daniella Diaz

US Rep. Jim Clyburn conducts a subcommittee hearing in June.
US Rep. Jim Clyburn conducts a subcommittee hearing in June. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/File)

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 leader in the Democratic caucus, told CNN he plans to “stay in leadership” if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides to step aside. But he said that he won’t run for the top Democratic spot.

There have been a lot of questions about Clyburn’s next steps because they will affect the leader spots down the line.

Clyburn said: “I plan to stay in leadership.” 

Asked in what capacity, he said: “I have no idea.”

Asked if would be the top job, he said: “No, it won’t be that.”

Pelosi did not address her future in Tuesday's caucus meeting, multiple sources tell CNN.

On a separate note, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said during the caucus meeting Democrats want to try to pass DREAM Act during the lame-duck session, sources also told CNN.  

10:01 a.m. ET, November 15, 2022

Biden calls Democrats Katie Hobbs, Steve Sisolak and Susie Lee

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Biden made congratulatory calls to Arizona Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs and Rep. Susie Lee, both Democrats recently projected to win their races, after his first G20 working session in Bali, Indonesia.

The president also called to congratulate Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, the White House said Tuesday. 

8:54 a.m. ET, November 15, 2022

New Hampshire voters stood for democracy, a working economy and individual rights, Sen. Maggie Hassan says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

(CNN)
(CNN)

New Hampshire voted for common sense, individual rights, democracy and an economy that works for everyone, re-elected Sen. Maggie Hassan told CNN Tuesday.

"I think what we heard from Granite State voters last week was a really resounding vote for common sense," she said. "They really want us to work together. We got a lot of challenges ahead. We got to build an economy that works for everybody, we got to protect our democracy, protect individual freedoms."

Hassan emphasized needing to address inflation, as well as the cost of energy and drug prescriptions.

"I think people know that we need to work together to address inflation, for instance, which is really hurting families and small businesses all across my state and across the country. We have taken some steps to begin to lower costs on things like prescription drugs, and energy. We need to do more right now, this winter, on home heating expenses, especially in my neck of the woods," Hassan said.

While campaigning, Hassan said she heard voters' concerns about women's health care rights.

"They also care a lot about individual freedoms, particularly a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions," she told CNN, adding that a voter told her campaign volunteer that he will vote so he could make "sure his granddaughter would have the same rights that her mother did."

9:49 a.m. ET, November 15, 2022

McCarthy expected to lead House GOP despite far-right critics

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Alex Rogers

Rep. Kevin McCarthy arrives as Republicans hold their leadership candidate forum at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on Monday.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy arrives as Republicans hold their leadership candidate forum at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on Monday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is hoping to pass a crucial test on Tuesday in his campaign to become House speaker despite an underwhelming midterm election performance that launched a search among conservatives for a challenger.

A week after Election Day, CNN has still not yet projected whether Republicans will win the House. But McCarthy is confident that he will win a majority of House GOP votes on Tuesday to lead his conference – and will earn in January the 218 votes necessary to hold the speaker’s gavel.

He’ll face at least one opponent: Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a former chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Biggs announced on Newsmax on Monday night that he would run against McCarthy, while acknowledging it would be “tough” to beat someone who has “raised a lot of money” to elect his colleagues.

“This is not just about Kevin,” said Biggs. “I think it’s about institutional direction and trajectory.”

Before Biggs’ announcement, McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who is running to be majority leader, attempted to quell the tensions vibrating within the party on Monday. McCarthy met with several members of the House Freedom Caucus on Monday, and Scalise apologized at a meeting to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz for privately criticizing him in the immediate wake of January 6, 2021, according to sources in the room.

Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson said he’ll support McCarthy for leader, noting the GOP gained House seats the last two elections. “He’s done a good job,” said Simpson.

“There were factors beyond what Kevin McCarthy could deal with that affected this election,” he added.

Some members of the far-right appeared assuaged.

“If we don’t unify behind Kevin McCarthy, we’re opening up the door for the Democrats to be able to recruit some of our Republicans,” said Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Even before Biggs jumped in the ring, House members predicted that McCarthy would face a challenger who would expose that the California Republican does not currently enjoy enough support to become speaker next year.

Read more.

8:54 a.m. ET, November 15, 2022

Nevada's Cortez Masto says Democrats "can’t take any community for granted" after midterms performance

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Catherine Cortez Masto speaks at an event in Henderson, Nevada, on November 7.
Catherine Cortez Masto speaks at an event in Henderson, Nevada, on November 7. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, whose recent reelection denied Republicans the chance to control the Senate, said Democrats cannot take any area for granted moving forward.

“We can’t take any community for granted, and we have to not only constantly outreach, but we have to follow up and we have to engage and talk to them and listen to the issues that matter to them,” Cortez Masto, the first Latina senator, told CNN when asked about the role of Latino voters in her successful bid for reelection.

Cortez Masto’s reelection, which CNN projected Saturday evening, marked a critical victory for Senate Democrats, allowing the party to keep control of the chamber. The Nevada Democrat had long been viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents as she fended off a challenge from former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt in a state whose economy had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and inflation.

One of the biggest challenges she faced is that much of Nevada’s population is transient – meaning many voters had not gotten to know Cortez Masto or her record.

But Cortez Masto found support with what she called “kitchen table issues.” Throughout the campaign, she focused on Democrats’ legislative efforts to reduce Americans’ costs, including on health care and prescription drugs, while trying to tie her Republican opponent to “big oil.”

Cortez Masto also tried to remind voters of Laxalt’s history as one of former President Donald Trump’s campaign co-chairs and accused him of pushing an “extreme agenda” and the kind of conspiracy theories that she said fueled the storming of the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“To me, it’s all about working families, making sure we’re fighting for them always,” she told CNN. “And I think that’s an important message for so many people to understand in Nevada.”

CNN’s Maeve Reston contributed to this report.