Democrats on Monday won back a seat in the U.S. Senate as Republican Martha McSally conceded defeat in Arizona after Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) saw her lead increase for a third straight day, while in Florida, aides to GOP Gov. Rick Scott said he would go to Capitol Hill for freshman orientation this week, even as his Senate race was still the subject of a recount in the Sunshine State.
Not long after new vote totals showed Sinema leading by over 38,000 votes, McSally issued a statement on Twitter, congratulating Sinema for her upset victory, which will limit overall GOP gains in the Senate.
“I just called Kyrsten Sinema and congratulated her on becoming Arizona’s first female Senator,” McSally said in a video released on Twitter.
The concession came as elections officials in Arizona continued to go through thousands of mail-in ballots, which require both a signature check, and a review to make sure the voter did not also cast a ballot in person on Election Day.
Most of the ballots being counted in recent days had come from Maricopa County in the Phoenix area – which has 143,000 ballots still to process – though other counties are still going through smaller numbers of provisional ballots, as the trend was clearly in the favor of Sinema.
“All early ballots have been tabulated,” the Pinal County elections office said on Monday afternoon. “We have approx. 6,000 provisional ballots and hope to process and finish them on Tuesday, Nov. 13.”
After the latest rush of ballots, the Associated Press called the race in favor of Sinema – despite the over 150,000 ballots left to be counted.
The action in Arizona left only Florida still with an undecided race for U.S. Senate, as elections officials started their recount Monday, with Gov. Rick Scott (R) leading by 13,500 votes.
Even without a final resolution to the race, Scott was heading to Capitol Hill to prepare to become a Senator in January.
“This week, Senator-elect Scott will fly to Washington to participate in new-member orientation, including the photo and voting in leadership elections,” Scott’s campaign told reporters.
GOP leadership elections are set for Wednesday, with new members making their way to Capitol Hill this week in both the House and Senate, as Scott will be allowed to participate in the Senate Republican elections, even though his race remains in flux, while elections officials in 67 counties were going through ballots for a Senate recount.
Back in Florida on Monday, lawyers for the Governor, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and elections officials continued to tangle in court, as a Florida judge urged all involved in the key Senate race to tone down the rhetoric, in what almost seemed like a message to the White House as well.
Hours earlier, the President had tweeted, “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott,” a move which would run counter to Florida election law, cut off the recount, and block votes still allowed from overseas military ballots.
Across the state, elections officials were in various stages of the recount, with larger counties still working to go through all the ballots in both the races for Governor and Senate.
The recount could add votes to the mix, as ballots which were not readable by the machines are reconstructed by elections officials – with observers from both parties on hand – to insure that all the votes are counted.
“If a manual recount is ordered, we will begin on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m.,” said Deborah Clark, the Supervisor of Elections in Pinellas County, Florida.