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For some incoming senators, the primary was the real election

Winners of safe open seats include two House members

Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin won the Senate race to replace Sen. James M. Inhofe, who is retiring at the end of this Congress.
Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin won the Senate race to replace Sen. James M. Inhofe, who is retiring at the end of this Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of Senate seats were basically decided when the state’s dominant party chose its nominee in the primary. Those races will send two House members, a former Senate chief of staff and a state attorney general to the Senate. Here are the details:


Britt sails in Alabama: Republican Katie Britt will succeed her former boss, retiring Sen. Richard C. Shelby, as Alabama’s next senator. Britt, who won the GOP nomination after a runoff against outgoing Rep. Mo Brooks, was declared the winner by The Associated Press at 8 p.m. Eastern time, when polls closed. Britt was endorsed by former President Donald Trump after he rescinded his initial endorsement of Brooks. She will be the first female senator elected from the Yellowhammer State, although the state has had two women senators who were appointed. At 40, Britt will be one of the youngest members of the Senate. 


State Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the seat being vacated by Sen. Roy Blunt, the Republican Policy Committee chairman. Schmitt defeated Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, an Anheuser-Busch beer family heiress who largely self-funded her campaign. Schmitt was leading Busch Valentine by 13 percentage points when the AP called the race at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time. Schmitt won the Republican nomination this summer against former Gov. Eric Greitens and outgoing Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, as well as several other candidates. 


Oklahoma is the rare state to hold two Senate elections this year. State law allows for special elections to fill vacancies to replace members who are planning to leave office before their terms are up, and Sen. James M. Inhofe has said he will retire at the end of this Congress, just two years into his fifth full term. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a five-term House member, won the primary to succeed him. Mullin faced Democratic former Rep. Kendra Horn and the AP called the race at 8 p.m., when polls closed. He will be the only Native American member of the Senate. A former wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter, Mullin has focused on energy issues while in the House. Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford was also reelected Tuesday, defeating Democrat Madison Horn, who is not related to Kendra Horn.


Democratic Rep. Peter Welch won the seat to succeed retiring Sen. Patrick J. Leahy in Vermont. Welch, who is in his eighth term in the House, beat Republican Gerald Malloy. The AP called the race at 7 p.m. Eastern time, when polls closed, before any votes had been tallied. Welch is a liberal but has a reputation of trying to find common ground with more moderate members of his own party and across the aisle, including on issues like prescription drug prices.

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