Democrats keep Senate as control of House remains undecided

1 min ago

“They don’t want extremes.” Outgoing Massachusetts GOP governor on the lesson from voters in the midterms

From CNN’s Eric Bradner

Charlie Baker, the moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, said former President Donald Trump’s influence hurt their party in this year’s midterm elections as voters demonstrated they “aren’t interested in extremism.”

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Baker said Trump “hurt the party’s chances on Election Day, not just here in Massachusetts and Maryland, but in many of those other battleground states.”

“The big message coming out of Tuesday — and I would argue the big message voters are going to send going forward — is you need to demonstrate in word and deed that you believe this is more, that this is always going to be about more, than just your party and your partisans,” Baker said.

In this year’s midterm elections, across key battleground states, including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Trump endorsed candidates who embraced his lies about widespread election fraud. Most of those candidates lost.

Baker said Republicans need to learn as a result of the midterms that voters aren’t interested in extreme candidates — an implicit suggestion that Trump’s endorsements proved costly.

Baker, who is set to depart office after two terms in the deep-blue state’s governor’s office, said he thinks voters want “elected officials who are going to reach out, who are going to engage with the so-called other side and who are going to take seriously this idea that you are supposed to try to represent and hear the voices of all of the people that you serve.”

“I think in the midterms, one of the big lessons that the Republican Party nationally needs to take away from it is voters want collaborative elected officials. They don’t want extremes,” he added.

28 min ago

Congress can have a “great two years if we work together,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says 

From CNN’s Ali Zaslav

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the US Capitol on November 14.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the US Capitol on November 14. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday said his plans for the Democratic majority in the next two years include working on accomplishing as much bipartisan legislation as possible. 

“We can have a great, great two years if we work together,” he said, in remarks on the Senate floor as the chamber returned from recess. 

“Let us move forward with the same spirit of cooperation and compromise that made the 117th Congress one of the most successful in recent history,” he said. “I say to my Republican colleagues including Leader McConnell: Work with us. We are willing to work with you to get things done,” he added.

CNN projected Saturday that Democrats will maintain their narrow Senate majority, after victories in close contests in Nevada and Arizona.

Speaking to his caucus, Schumer said “let us proceed in the next two years by putting people first and getting things done even if we have to compromise. We may not accomplish everything we want, but if we can get real things done that will measure how good a Congress we can be.”

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” he added, pointing to the successful bipartisan gun and mental health deal as an example. 

41 min ago

McConnell says he has enough votes to be Senate GOP leader

From CNN’s Alex Rogers

Asked if he had enough votes to remain Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell told reporters in the Capitol on Monday, “of course.” 

He declined to answer questions about whether former President Donald Trump should delay announcing a 2024 presidential campaign or comment on calls to delay the Senate GOP leadership elections. 

32 min ago

Potential McCarthy challenger won’t confirm his bid for House speaker but says “nobody has 218 votes”

From CNN’s Annie Grayer

Rep. Andy Biggs attends a roundtable discussion with members of the House Freedom Caucus on November 10.
Rep. Andy Biggs attends a roundtable discussion with members of the House Freedom Caucus on November 10. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images)

Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, a former chairman of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, would not confirm to CNN if he is mounting a long-shot challenge to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the House GOP’s internal leadership elections on Tuesday, but was confident there will be a challenger.

“Nobody has 218 votes and there will be a challenger in the conference,” Biggs said.

Asked if there will be a challenge made in the GOP leadership candidate forum tonight, Biggs said, “I’m just going to stick to my statement.”

While McCarthy is not worried about any challengers and only needs a simple majority during Tuesday’s vote to become the GOP’s speaker nominee — the real test would come in January when he would need 218 votes on the floor — the likely challenge from Biggs could expose how McCarthy is currently short of 218 votes and open up uncomfortable conversations about why an oft-promised “red wave” never materialized. 

The balance of the House is yet to be determined, but a razor-thin GOP majority looks likely.

For more on the GOP leadership races, click here.

1 hr 23 min ago

Catch up: These are the 19 House races that are yet to be called by CNN

From CNN’s Andrew Menezes

As you tune into CNN’s election coverage Monday afternoon, here are the 19 races that are yet to be called.

Alaska’s At-Large District: Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola was the surprise winner of a special election in August to succeed the late GOP Rep. Don Young. She is in a rematch with former Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, and Republican businessman Nick Begich in her bid for a full term.

Arizona: As of late Saturday, an estimated 290,000 votes were left to be counted. Two of Arizona’s nine House races remain uncalled as of Sunday afternoon

  • Arizona’s 1st District – Six-term GOP Rep. David Schweikert, who was previously reprimanded by the House for ethics violations, is locked in a close race with Democrat Jevin Hodge for this redrawn and renumbered Phoenix-area seat.
  • Arizona’s 6th District – Republican Juan Ciscomani, a former senior adviser to Gov. Doug Ducey, and Democrat Kirsten Engel, a former state senator, are competing for this redrawn and renumbered district that covers southeastern Arizona and includes parts of Tucson.

California has 10 uncalled races: CNN has not yet projected who will win California’s 34th District but is counting it as part of the Democrats’ total because both candidates are Democrats.) These include races in the 3rd District, 9th District, 13th District, 21st District, 22nd District, 27th District, 41st District, 45th District, 47th District, 49th District.

Colorado: It gained an eighth seat in reapportionment after the 2020 census. Two races remain uncalled.

  • Colorado’s 3rd District – Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert surprisingly finds herself in a tight race for her Western Slope district that became redder in redistricting. Her Democratic opponent is Adam Frisch, a former Aspen City councilman, and an automatic recount is possible.
  • Colorado’s 8th District – Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo and Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer were competing for this newly drawn seat north of Denver. Biden would have carried it by less than 5 points in 2020. CNN has not made a projection in this race, though Kirkmeyer has conceded to Caraveo.

Maine’s 2nd District: The state, like Alaska, uses ranked-choice voting to decide its winners in federal elections. In the 2nd District, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden and former Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin could see their race decided by the state’s ranked-choice voting system for a second time. Neither candidate nor independent Tiffany Bond had cleared 50% of the vote as of Sunday afternoon for a district that covers much of the state north of Portland.

New Mexico’s 2nd District: Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell trails Democrat Gabe Vasquez in her bid for a second term representing a district that now includes parts of southern and western New Mexico and that became more Democratic in redistricting. While Herrell has conceded the race, CNN has not yet made a projection.

New York’s 22nd District: Republican Brandon Williams and Democrat Francis Conole, both Navy veterans, are competing for this redrawn Central New York district. It’s an open seat that Biden would have carried by under 8 points.

Oregon’s 6th District: Elections are conducted entirely by mail. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and can be received up to seven days later. The state gained a new House seat in redistricting. Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas and Republican businessman Mike Erickson are competing for this newly drawn district, which includes Salem. Biden would have carried it by 13 points in 2020.

CNN’s Maeve Reston, Eric Bradner and Renée Rigdon contributed reporting to this post.

27 min ago

Ronna McDaniel says she intends to seek reelection as RNC chair

From CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Dana Bash, Gabby Orr, Kristen Holmes and Melanie Zanona

Ronna McDaniel takes the stage before Kevin McCarthy at an election night party in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.
Ronna McDaniel takes the stage before Kevin McCarthy at an election night party in Washington, DC, on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images)

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, told members that she intends to seek reelection for another term – in hopes of leading the party through the 2024 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with a conference call Monday.

As recriminations intensify over a disappointing midterm election cycle for Republicans, and after Democrats held their Senate majority, dissatisfaction is spilling out into public view as the party moves to leadership elections in the House, Senate and the RNC.  

On an early-afternoon call, McDaniel told members that she intended to run for a fourth term — and asked for their support.

She has received private support from about 100 members, an aide said, even as an appetite for new leadership is coursing through some sectors of the party.

She was first chosen to lead the RNC when former President Donald Trump took office.

The two have worked closely together over the past five years, with occasional dustups, but he has not publicly signaled his intentions about who he would like to see lead the national party.

Possible challengers: One possible challenge could emerge from South Dakota as Gov. Kristi Noem has fielded calls from top GOP donors urging her to mount a bid for chair of the RNC, CNN has learned. 

Sources familiar with the matter said Noem, who glided to reelection last Tuesday, has been contacted by several major RNC donors who are seeking a change in leadership following an underwhelming midterm cycle for Republicans.  

“I think the party would very much like to have another female chair,” said a person familiar with the effort to draft Noem. The committee’s bylaws stipulate that its chair and co-chair must be of the opposite sex. 

Noem’s communications director Ian Fury declined “to confirm or deny” attempts to recruit Noem for the high-profile position. 

It is unclear whether Noem is interested in the job at this point. Sources said the South Dakota Republican, who has previously been floated as a potential running mate if Donald Trump launches a successful bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, received a call from the former president immediately after her reelection victory. She has been invited to appear at his expected 2024 campaign announcement on Tuesday, these sources said.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who mounted a better-than-expected but ultimately unsuccessful bid for New York governor this year, has also been fielding calls encouraging him to run for RNC chair, a source with knowledge of the conversations told CNN. NBC first reported that Zeldin was taking calls encouraging him to run.

Meanwhile, Tommy Hicks, co-chair of the committee, said in a statement Monday he would not seek re-election for a third term. Hicks, who has served as co-chairman for four years, said in a letter to RNC members it was time for him to focus on his family.  

Trump has also kept a close relationship with McDaniel and Hicks, though Republicans have been speculating whether there will be a shakeup at the RNC following Tuesday’s disappointing GOP midterm results. 

Following the midterms, “someone new needs to run and clean house at the RNC,” one Trump adviser told CNN. 

1 hr 54 min ago

Freedom Caucus meets with Kevin McCarthy on eve of internal House leadership elections

From CNN’s Melanie Zanona

On the day before the House Republican’s internal leadership elections, several members of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus met with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his office as they seek to extract concessions from him in exchange for their speaker vote.

Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry said that while McCarthy has been willing to hear them out, he doesn’t see the current minority leader cutting any deals until after Tuesday, when Perry is “99% confident” that someone will challenge McCarthy to show him he doesn’t have the 218 votes he would need on the House floor in January. 

“I don’t think anything’s gonna really change between now and then,” Perry told CNN leaving the meeting in McCarthy’s office. 

Virginia Rep. Bob Good, who said McCarthy faces “an uphill climb” to the speakership, said they’ve asked McCarthy to bring to them his proposal for running the House. 

Perry said that while their primary focus has been seeking rules changes that would empower individual members — and weaken the speaker — that is “not the limit” of their issues.

“We want to see this place change dramatically, to reflect the will of the people and to acknowledge how broken it is,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon anybody that wants to lead to kind of lay out their vision and how they would change their portion of it.” 

Perry also said the House Freedom Caucus has not taken an official position on the speaker’s race. Indeed, not everyone in the group is on board with their hardline strategy. 

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said on a podcast earlier today she thinks it’s “risky” and a “bad strategy” to challenge McCarthy, given that the GOP will likely have a razor-thin majority, and wants to see her party united.

1 hr 18 min ago

Sen. Ted Cruz on McConnell: He would “rather be a leader than have a Republican majority”

From CNN’s Ali Zaslav

Sen. Ted Cruz departs after a vote on Capitol Hill on September 29.
Sen. Ted Cruz departs after a vote on Capitol Hill on September 29. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, rebuked GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday and said that he would “rather be leader than have a Republican majority.”

Cruz made the remarks on his podcast called “Verdict with Ted Cruz!”.��

The Texas senator said McConnell pulled campaign support via the Senate Leadership Fund from races of candidates who said they wouldn’t support him as Senate GOP leader.

Asked why the PAC with ties to McConnell pulled funds out from Arizona, Cruz said, “because (Blake) Masters said he would vote against Mitch McConnell.”

“So, Mitch would rather be leader than have a Republican majority,” he continued. “If there’s a Republican who can win who’s not going to support Mitch, the truth of the matter is he’d rather the Democrat win.”

He added, “Mitch made a decision, it’s more important to him to have Republicans who will back him, than it is to have 51 Republicans. I understand why there’s a certain selfishness that justifies that it just doesn’t make any sense if you give a damn about the country.”  

McConnell’s office didn’t immediately reply to CNN’s request for comment.

The Texas Republican also reiterated his call to delay Senate leadership elections until after the Georgia runoff on Dec 6. 

“It would be insane if we reelect the same leadership two days from now,” he said. “If we say, ‘Hey nothing happened everything’s good,’ keep rowing off the waterfall, crash into the rocks everything’s awesome. Listen if you have the number one team in the nation and you get crushed… you know what happens? They fire the coach. The idea that we would have leadership elections on Wednesday is insane.”  

2 hr 42 min ago

Key things to know about the upcoming House leadership elections

From CNN’s Clare Foran, Melanie Zanona and Annie Grayer

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has declared his bid for the speakership.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has declared his bid for the speakership. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

A new Congress won’t be sworn in until January and control of the House has not yet been determined, but Republicans appear on track to recapture the chamber and the race to determine who will serve as the next speaker is underway.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has officially declared his bid for the speakership, but is already facing headwinds from members of the hardline, pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus who are threatening to withhold their support as they hope to extract concessions. On the Democratic side, Nancy Pelosi, the current House speaker, has not yet made clear what her next move will be.

When votes will happen: The vote to elect the next speaker will take place in January at the start of the new Congress, but House Republicans will hold an internal candidate forum on Monday evening, followed by leadership elections on Tuesday, Nov. 15, according to a copy of the schedule shared with CNN.

The elections are conducted behind closed doors and are done via secret ballot. In the GOP’s internal leadership elections, McCarthy only needs a simple majority to win his party’s nomination for speaker. That is expected to happen, but McCarthy could still fall short of 218 votes – the magic number needed to win the speaker’s gavel in January.

House Democratic leadership elections have been announced for Wednesday, Nov. 30. Voting will take place behind closed doors via secret ballot using an app. This meeting will be for the next House Democratic Caucus Chair and whoever is elected to that role will administer the rest of the leadership elections.

What to watch from the Republicans: McCarthy has been working the phones locking down support from across the conference and has received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. But it could be a rocky road — Members of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus are threatening to withhold support for McCarthy’s speakership bid and have begun to lay out their list of demands.

McCarthy and his team are confident he will ultimately get the votes to be speaker. And two would-be challengers, Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise, the current House GOP whip, have lined up behind his speakership bid.

What to watch from Nancy Pelosi: What happens in Democratic leadership elections revolves around the key question of what Pelosi decides to do. If she runs again for leadership, such a move would also likely surprise, and even frustrate, many in Washington, including members of her own party, who have been anticipating that she might step aside for a new generation of leadership to take the reins.

If Pelosi does not run for the top leadership post, it would set the stage for a major shakeup in House Democratic leadership and mark the end of an era for Washington. The move would kick off a fight for her successor that could expose divisions within the party as other prominent members of the party look to move up the leadership ladder.

Keep reading here.