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Here’s who won 2022’s most competitive Senate races

Fetterman wins in Pennsylvania, Georgia goes to runoff

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., arrives in the Capitol via the Senate subway for a vote on Sept. 8.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., arrives in the Capitol via the Senate subway for a vote on Sept. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, both parties fought hard to gain ground, or at least maintain their seats. Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden loomed over several of the Senate races. Here is a rundown of who won the most competitive races, based on results tabulated by The Associated Press. This report will be updated. 


Murkowski wins reelection: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, won reelection in the third balloting of the state’s ranked choice voting system. Murkowski was leading by 7 percentage points when the AP called the race on Nov. 23 at 8:09 p.m. Eastern time. Her biggest challenge was from fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka, the Trump-backed candidate who came in second. Voters in Alaska held an all-party primary this summer in which each voter could select one candidate; the four candidates with the most votes, including Murkowski and Tshibaka, advanced to the general election in November. Since no one among those top four won more than 50 percent, the ranked system, which essentially provides for an instant runoff, was implemented. 


Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly defeated Republican challenger Blake Masters to win his first full term. Kelly, an astronaut first elected in a 2020 special election, was leading by 6 percentage points when the AP called the race Friday at 10:14 p.m. Eastern time. Kelly, who defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally in 2020, is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and became an anti-gun violence advocate after Giffords was shot in a 2011 assassination attempt. Masters, a venture capitalist and protege of tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, criticized Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during his campaign and pledged to team up with Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo. to push shared priorities if elected. 


Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet prevailed over moderate Republican and construction company owner Joe O’Dea, winning his third full term representing Colorado. The AP called the Senate race for Bennet at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time when he led by 14 percentage points. A former superintendent of Denver’s public school system and managing director of a firm where he oversaw a major movie theater chain deal, Bennet is known as a policy-focused senator willing to negotiate bipartisan deals. He sought his party’s presidential nomination in 2020 but failed to break through in a crowded field of Democratic candidates with bigger national profiles. O’Dea’s victory in the Republican primary was thought to have tightened the race, after Democratic groups spent in an apparent attempt to boost his more conservative opponent. O’Dea took traditionally conservative fiscal policy stances but opposed Trump and backed rights to abortion and same-sex marriage.


Republican Sen. Marco Rubio defeated a challenge by Democratic Rep. Val B. Demings to win a third term. Rubio was leading by nearly 14 points when the AP called the race at 8:17 p.m. Eastern time. While Demings reported larger fundraising numbers than Rubio, the two campaigns reported close to the same cash on hand, with Demings’ $4.9 million to Rubio’s $4.1 million. Demings, the former police chief for the city of Orlando, ran on her law enforcement background.


No candidate cleared the 50-percent-plus-one-vote bar needed to avoid a Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia’s Senate election, the AP said at 2:23 p.m. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker each had hoped to avoid overtime, but it was always a significant possibility. Around 3 p.m. Wednesday, Warnock had 49.4 percent and Walker 48.5 percent, with Libertarian Party candidate Chase Oliver taking 2.1 percent, enough to deny either major-party candidate a majority. Walker, a Heisman Trophy-winning running back at the University of Georgia before his NFL career, was aided through the general election with visits from numerous Republican senators and plenty of outside money, something that will only continue for the next month — especially if Senate control is on the line when the dust settles in other Senate races.


Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, who was first elected the year Ronald Reagan won the presidency, was reelected to an eighth term, beating a challenge from Democrat Mike Franken, a retired Navy admiral. Grassley, 89, faced one of his toughest elections, but he was up 11 percentage points at 11:01 p.m. Eastern time, when the AP called the race. Trump had gone to Iowa to campaign for Grassley.

New Hampshire

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan defeated Republican Don Bolduc to win a second term. Hassan was leading by about 12 percentage points when the AP called the race at 11:39 p.m. Eastern time. Polls had showed a tightening race in the final weeks of the campaign. Hassan had a fundraising advantage over Bolduc, who won the Republican nomination in September. A top Democratic super PAC spent money in the GOP primary that signaled Bolduc would be a weaker opponent for Hassan. Senate Leadership Fund, the leading GOP Senate super PAC, pulled its spending from the state last month, prompting the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which had previously pulled out of the state, to go back up on air. 

North Carolina

GOP Rep. Ted Budd defeated former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard M. Burr. Budd, a three-term House member, was leading Beasley by less than 4 percentage points when the AP called the race at 11:49 p.m. Eastern time. Republicans considered holding the seat necessary to win control of the Senate. Budd trailed Beasley in fundraising, but GOP outside groups spent heavily in the state, while Democratic outside groups did not spend as much in North Carolina as they did in other key Senate battlegrounds. Budd, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, was endorsed by Trump ahead of the Republican primary and focused on inflation, crime and parental rights. 


Republican J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” about his hardscrabble upbringing and his mother’s struggle with addiction, beat Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. Vance was leading by about 7 percentage points when the AP called the race at 11:19 p.m. Eastern time. Republican Sen. Rob Portman opted not to run for reelection, sparking a competitive GOP primary in which Trump endorsed Vance. The former president held a rally for Vance the day before Election Day. Ryan, who is in his 10th term in the House, downplayed his party affiliation, even as he voted with his party on votes that split the parties 97.1 percent of the time during his House career, according to CQ Vote Watch. Ryan posted strong fundraising, hauling in nearly $50 million to Vance’s $13 million, as of Oct. 19, according to Federal Election Commission reports. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the state’s GOP lean and the political environment, which favored Republicans. 


Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated television doctor Mehmet Oz in one of the closest-watched Senate races this year, claiming a seat left open by departing Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey. Fetterman overcame the challenges of a stroke in May that impaired his hearing and speech to edge out the Trump-endorsed Oz, whom Democrats derided as a millionaire carpetbagger from New Jersey trying to buy the open Senate seat. Fetterman led by 2 percentage points when the AP called the race at 1:51 a.m. Eastern time. Oz never shook off low favorability ratings from voters, despite tightening the race considerably in the final months with a focus on crime and inflation. More than $250 million was spent on the race, according to a WESA radio tally that includes the crowded primaries and outside spending, with Fetterman outraising Oz in direct contributions $48 million to $12 million as of the end of September.


Republican Sen. Mike Lee won reelection, defeating independent former presidential hopeful Evan McMullin, who said he would not caucus with either party if elected to the Senate. Lee led McMullin by about 14 percentage points when the AP called the race at 1:23 a.m. Eastern time. McMullin focused his campaign on threats to democracy, trying to appeal both to Democrats and to Republicans critical of Trump. But Lee, who had the backing of Trump and the Senate Republican establishment, was able to win in the solidly Republican state.


Democratic Sen. Patty Murray beat back a challenge from Republican Tiffany Smiley to win a sixth term. Murray was leading by about 14 percentage points when the AP called the race at 12:10 a.m. Eastern time. Smiley, a first-time candidate and veterans advocate, had outraised Murray in recent fundraising periods, but given that Biden won the state by 19 points in 2020, the challenger had an uphill battle to oust the longtime incumbent even with a political environment generally favorable to the GOP. Murray raised $18.8 million to Smiley’s $16.5 million, according to FEC reports as of Oct. 19. Outside groups also invested millions in the race, including Women Vote!, the super PAC tied to EMILY’s List, which supported Murray. 


Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the former CEO of a plastics company who was first elected as a tea party outsider in 2010, won a third term over Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Johnson, a close ally of Trump, had been one of the Democrats’ chief targets at the start of the election cycle. But Johnson hung on and was leading by about half a percentage point when the AP called the contest at 12:46 p.m. Eastern time. The race presented a stark contrast: Barnes said Johnson’s comments downplaying the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol showed that he represents a danger to democracy. Johnson said Barnes, who served four years in the state Legislature, holds liberal views that are out of step with Wisconsin voters. 

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