What the Senate race in Alaska lacked in mystery, it added in suspense, thanks to the state’s ultra-slow vote counting process. However, our partners at Decision Desk HQ have finally called the final Senate race of 2020, locking in the 50th seat for Republicans in the next session of Congress — and making the two runoff elections in Georgia even more critical for Democrats.
Or … maybe not:
Decision Desk HQ Projects @DanSullivan_AK (R) Has Won Election To The Senate From The State Of AK
Race Called At 11-11 8:22 AM EST
All Results: https://t.co/8VxbhWIELL
— Decision Desk HQ (@DecisionDeskHQ) November 11, 2020
It didn’t take this long because it was close. It took this long because Alaska is only about 80% through its ballots, even eight days after the election. Sullivan leads Democrat Al Gross by twenty points, 57/37, but no one could call the state because too many ballots were left to be counted.
Anyway, now we know that we’re looking at a Senate where the GOP have at least half of the chamber. With Joe Biden in the White House, that would leave Kamala Harris on hand to break any ties, including on leadership votes. Republicans have to win at least one of the two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 to keep control of the floor and to ensure that Republicans have any leverage at all in legislation and Cabinet appointments.
Of course, there’s another way around that. Joe Manchin spent most of the last two days insisting that he won’t vote for Democrats’ “crazy stuff,” like court-packing and the Green New Deal. He also wants an “all of the above” approach to energy that’s not just out of line with extreme progressives but with the core of his party. He demurred on party switching in his interview with Bret Baier and in another with Salena Zito, but also made it clear that he wasn’t going to enable Democrats to take control of the agenda, either.
Sullivan’s win formalizes the environment for a party switch. Manchin had no reason to consider it until Republicans had a firm 50 seats, because otherwise McConnell didn’t have anything to give — such as a guaranteed committee chair seat — until a flip ensured McConnell the majority. Manchin only has a few weeks left in which his affiliation has an assured value to McConnell worth that kind of horse trade. If Manchin’s in a negotiating mood, Sullivan’s win makes this time to play Let’s Make a Deal.
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