The battle for control of the U.S. Congress hangs in the balance two days after the midterm elections, when predictions of a “red wave” of Republican victories failed to materialize. Three undetermined races will determine whether Democrats or Republicans hold power in the Senate.
In Arizona, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly has a significant lead over Republican Blake Masters, with nearly a third of ballots yet to be counted.
In Nevada, Trump-supporting Republican Adam Laxalt is leading incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto by fewer than 20,000 votes. Most of the 20% of the ballots yet to be counted are mail-in votes from urban areas likely to favor Cortez Masto.
In Georgia, newly reelected Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced plans for a December 6 runoff in Georgia’s Senate race. Incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock received about 30,000 more votes than his Republican rival, former NFL star Herschel Walker. But Warnock fell just shy of the 50% mark needed to avoid a runoff.
In Wisconsin, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes has conceded to incumbent Senator Ron Johnson in a closely fought contest. Senator Johnson is a climate denier who has downplayed the January 6 Capitol riot; just ahead of the insurrection, Johnson and his staff tried to deliver lists of fake electors to Vice President Mike Pence.
Here in New York, Congressmember Sean Patrick Maloney has conceded to Republican state Assemblymember Mike Lawler in the race for the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District. Maloney served as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, making it his responsibility to protect Democrats’ majority in the House.
On Wednesday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy declared his candidacy for speaker of the House — even though Republicans significantly underperformed in the midterms and they have yet to clinch a House majority. McCarthy’s main rival for House speaker, Louisiana Congressmember Steve Scalise, said he would instead run to become Republican majority leader.
More than 210 Republicans who denied the results of the 2020 election or cast doubt on Joe Biden’s presidential victory won races for Congress, governor, secretary of state or attorney general. One top election denier is Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who has refused to say if she would accept a defeat at the polls. With 70% of votes counted, Democrat Katie Hobbs holds a razor-thin lead over Kari Lake.
In Michigan, where Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer easily won reelection Tuesday, Democrats have won back full control of the Legislature for the first time since 1983. Democrats also won complete control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota.
Nebraska voters have approved a ballot measure to incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
In South Dakota, voters have approved a ballot measure to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The move to bring health insurance to an estimated 45,000 low-income people was opposed by South Dakota Republicans, including Governor Kristi Noem.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden called Election Day a “good day for democracy.” He also said he intends to announce early next year whether he’ll run for a second term as president in 2024.
President Joe Biden: “This is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run, but they’re — we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry, one way or another, what to — to make that judgment, today, tomorrow, whenever, no matter what my predecessor does.”
Iran’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty for protesters arrested at anti-government demonstrations. The vote follows reports of widespread human rights abuses directed at an estimated 15,000 protesters held in Iranian jails. One female protester in her twenties told the BBC she witnessed physical and psychological torture, saying she could hear the sound of screams as prison guards beat young men in a cell next to hers.
Massive protests erupted across Iran in September after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in police custody. Mahsa Amini had been arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. On Wednesday, one of Iran’s best-known actors, Taraneh Alidoosti, posted an image of herself on social media without a hijab in violation of Iranian law, which requires women to cover their hair. She held a sign reading “Woman, Life, Freedom” in Kurdish.
Russian military leaders say they’ve ordered troops to withdraw from the city of Kherson, the lone regional capital seized by Russia after its invasion in February. On Wednesday, state media broadcast a televised briefing between Russia’s defense minister and the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin.
Sergei Surovikin: “Having comprehensively assessed the situation, I propose we take up defensive positions along the left bank of the Dnipro River. I understand that this is a very difficult decision. At the same time, we will save, most importantly, the lives of our troops and the overall combat effectiveness of the troops.”
The loss of Kherson would be the latest in a series of battlefield defeats for Russia as Ukrainian forces continue to claw back territory. But officials in Kyiv cautioned Russia could be trying to lure Ukrainian forces into a trap.
In Moscow, Kremlin officials say Russia may withdraw from a Turkish and U.N.-brokered deal that has allowed for limited exports of fertilizers and grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. On Wednesday, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson suggested Russia may allow the deal to expire on November 19 unless Western powers lift sanctions on Russian agricultural exports. Russia has faced international condemnation for exacerbating a global food crisis at a time when the U.N. warns a record 345 million people face acute food insecurity.
Hurricane Nicole made landfall on Florida’s east coast early this morning, before weakening to a tropical storm. Nicole cut power to at least 82,000 homes and businesses, and brought about coastal flooding, strong winds and storm surges. It’s only the fourth-ever recorded November hurricane to hit the mainland United States.
Global heating is creating “far-reaching and worsening” crises in every part of the U.S., according to a draft of a major upcoming report by the National Climate Assessment. The report finds the United States has warmed 68% faster than Earth as a whole over the past half-century. A drastic and urgent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to slow down the climate-driven disasters from drought, excessive heat and extreme weather events. The report also says the worsening climate catastrophe will drive more forced migration, create public health crises and increase morbidity and mortality, and further threaten biodiversity. The authors note that if the world can reach zero or net zero emissions, warming will stop, curbing some of the worst effects of climate change. The U.S. would need to reduce emissions by over 6% every year to meet the Biden administration’s goal of net zero by 2050.
In news from the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, the group Global Witness found the number of delegates linked to the fossil fuel industry is 25% higher than at last year’s COP meeting. That’s more than 600 people — higher than the combined number of delegates from the 10 countries most impacted by the climate crisis.
On Wednesday, activists staged a number of protests at COP27. Youth activist Lucky Abeng of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance demanded rich counties pay poor nations for loss and damage caused by climate disasters — like recent floods in Nigeria that killed more than 600 people while displacing over a million.
Lucky Abeng: “We want world leaders to take this agenda very seriously, because our future as young people is at stake. We contribute less than 4% to the global greenhouse gas emissions, but yet the worst impact of climate change is upon us here in Africa.”
In Britain, activists with Just Stop Oil brought parts of the nation’s busiest highway to a standstill for a fourth straight day to demand the U.K. government stop all new oil and gas projects. Protesters climbed on highway sign overpasses, forcing police to shut down traffic. Dozens have been arrested this week, including youth activist Louise Harris.
Louise Harris: “Over a thousand people in the U.K. died in just a few days because of the 40-degree heat, because of the climate crisis, which is fueled by oil, gas, coal, fossil fuels. And our government, they want more. It is an act of murder! And this is an act of self-defense, and we need you to join us in order for this to work, in order for our murderous government to take action and listen. How many more people in Pakistan, in Nigeria have to die before they listen? Even in the U.K.!”
British police arrested a 23-year-old activist for pelting eggs at King Charles and Camilla during a visit to York, to protest the destruction wrought by the British monarchy. None of the eggs hit the pair, and the young activist continued to protest as police restrained him on the ground.
Protester: “You know what? I’m with the citizens of Earth, every person who stands against fascism worldwide, all of the victims of police brutality, all the victims of slavery and colonialism and imperialism, every single person who has died, men, women and children. Those eggs are the only justice that they’re ever going to see, for all of the people who have died so that that man could wear a crown.”