WASHINGTON – Control of the Senate hung in the balance Thursday, a cliffhanger after Republicans trounced Democratic challengers in crucial states but failed to lock down the seats needed to retain their tenuous majority.
One race in Georgia is headed to a January runoff. A second contest in Georgia and races in North Carolina and Alaska remain undecided, leaving the chamber now deadlocked 48-48. An outcome may not be known until the new year.
With the presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden also undecided, the Senate is in limbo because the vice president of the eventual winner's party would serve as a tie-breaker in a split chamber.
“We’re waiting — whether I’m going to be the majority leader or not,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday.
That was still the case Thursday.
The counting continued in Georgia, where GOP Sen. David Perdue was trying to hold off Democrat Jon Ossoff in a multi-candidate race that could also go to a runoff if neither candidate clears the 50% threshold to win.
There already is a Jan. 5 runoff in the state's other Senate race. GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock, a Black pastor at the church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, after they emerged as top vote-getters, but failed to clear the majority threshold.
In North Carolina, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis hoped to prevail over Democrat Cal Cunningham, whose sexting affair with a public relations specialist has clouded the race.