By Agence France-Presse and Reuters
WASHINGTON (AFP/Reuters) – Control of Congress will be divided next year, as Democrats won back the House of Representatives but President Donald Trump’s Republicans maintained their Senate majority in crucial midterms, networks projected Tuesday.
Democrats will pick up the 23 seats necessary to win a House majority, Fox and NBC reported, as they knocked off Republicans in swing states like Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Colorado in elections seen as the first nationwide referendum on Trump’s performance.
But Republicans struck back in the 100-member Senate, where they ousted at least two Democrats, in Indiana and North Dakota, and held on to at-risk seats in Tennessee and Texas.US voters elected two Muslim women, both Democrats, to Congress on Tuesday, marking a historic first in a country where anti-Muslim rhetoric has been on the rise, American networks reported.
Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, won a House seat in a heavily-Democratic district in the Midwestern state of Minnesota, where she will succeed Keith Ellison, himself the first Muslim elected to Congress.
Rashida Tlaib, a social worker born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents, won a House seat in a district where she ran unopposed by a Republican candidate.
The two politicians will increase the total number of Muslims in the House to three.
The first national elections since Trump captured the White House in a 2016 upset became a referendum on the polarizing president, and a test of whether Democrats can turn the energy of the liberal anti-Trump resistance into victories at the ballot box.
Many of the races that will decide the balance of power in Congress and shape the future of Trump’s presidency were still too close to call, including dozens of vital battleground districts.
In the Senate, where Republicans were heavily favored to keep control heading into Tuesday’s voting, Republican Mike Braun captured incumbent Joe Donnelly’s seat in Indiana. In North Dakota, Republican Kevin Cramer beat incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
That means Democrats, who needed to gain two Republican Senate seats to win control, now must pick up four.
In the House, Democrat Jennifer Wexton ousted incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock in suburban Virginia, and Florida Democrat Donna Shalala, a former Cabinet secretary under President
Bill Clinton, captured the seat of a retired Republican.
Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon won a Republican-held seat in Pennsylvania, while Democrat Jason Crow won a Republican held House seat in Colorado.
There were competitive Senate races still too close to call in Florida and Texas.
Incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin won a hotly contested race in conservative West Virginia, and Marsha Blackburn held a Senate seat for Republicans.
Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential nominee in 2016, easily won re-election, news networks projected. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown was projected to hold his seat in Ohio.
The marquee governor’s race, in Florida, is a nailbiter.
Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, is aiming to become the state’s first African-American chief executive. But he trails Republican Ron DeSantis by 1.1 percentage points, with nearly all precincts counted in the state, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Two bright spots for Democrats though: In Colorado, Jared Polis’s win will make the outgoing congressman the first openly gay governor in US history. And in an upset in largely red Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly defeated Trump favorite Kris Kobach.