Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures

Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures

This is Election Countdown, The Hill's newsletter from Lisa Hagen (@LA_Hagen) and Max Greenwood (@KMaxGreenwood) that brings you the biggest stories on the campaign trail. We'd love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out to Lisa at LHagen@thehill.com and Max at MGreenwood@thehill.com. with any questions, comments, criticisms or food recommendations (mostly the latter, please). Click here to sign up.

 

We're 726 from the 2020 elections. But there is still some unfinished business from Tuesday's midterms.

 

Two days after Election Day, Floridians are still wondering who their next senator will be.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida MORE (D-Fla.) and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, are separated in the polls by a little more than 17,000 votes, making a recount all but a certainty. The question is what kind of recount will it be? In Florida, a margin of 0.5 percent or less triggers a machine recount, while a margin of 0.25 percent or less forces a recount by hand.

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On Wednesday, Nelson hired attorney Marc Elias, a prominent elections lawyer, to counsel him through a recount. Speaking to reporters on a conference call Wednesday, Elias seemed bullish about the senator's chances of securing a win, arguing that a hand recount was virtually inevitable.

Nelson's allies have cast the recount as a chance to make sure all legally cast votes are counted.

Meanwhile, Scott's campaign has declared victory. They're accusing Nelson of trying to "steal" the election, arguing that the votes that separate them are insurmountable.

It could be days before Floridians see a clear outcome from the Senate race.

 

Recount fever is also spreading to the Florida governor's race. Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida governor threatens Airbnb over West Bank settlements Florida governor announces sheriff's suspension over Parkland shooting DeSantis asks entire South Florida water management board to resign MORE on Tuesday after polls showed him trailing by roughly 1 point. But new vote counts show the margin closing to 0.47 points. That's within the range that would trigger a recount. On Thursday, Gillum opened the door to one.

Whether that margin holds remains to be seen. County election officials in Broward and Palm Beach are still sorting through vote-by-mail ballots and most counties are working their way through provisional ballots. But what's certain is that two close races in the Sunshine State appear to be getting even closer.

 

While Florida is grappling with likely recounts, the state's neighbor to the north is dealing with an unsettled gubernatorial race.

Republican Brian Kemp has declared victory as Georgia's next governor and resigned as secretary of State earlier today. But Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams and her team remain defiant, saying they'll continue fighting until all votes are counted.

Her team is focused on uncounted provisional and absentee ballots. A lawyer on her legal team announced at a Thursday press conference that they're readying a lawsuit in Dougherty County. He's alleging that some requested absentee ballots were received late because of Hurricane Michael and that ones delivered late and submitted past the deadline should be counted.

 

Here's where the vote tally currently stands: nearly 63,000 votes separate Kemp and Abrams and the Republican is slightly above the 50-percent threshold that would trigger a Dec. 4 runoff. But at Thursday's press conference, Abrams's campaign manager made it clear they weren't backing down: "We are in this race until we're convinced that every vote is counted."

 

Senate races

In addition to Florida's Senate race, the Arizona Senate race is also unsettled with more outstanding ballots expected to be posted by the Arizona secretary of State's office. As of late Thursday afternoon, McSally was ahead of Sinema by 1 point, or 17,073 votes.

 

There was another bright spot for Democrats: Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mont.) held off a tight challenge from GOP state auditor Matt Rosendale. The race had increasingly tightened as President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE and his eldest son Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpCNN's Gergen: Trump discouraging next generation from civil service The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Trump shares article blasting federal workers, calling for long shutdown MORE made repeat trips to Big Sky Country to help Rosendale. This was the third time Tester won the Senate race by under 50 percent.

  

House races

It's been 48 hours since Election Day, but some toss-up races are still being called, while others remain in limbo. Here's the latest on races where Democrats flipped a seat:

 

Calif.-25: Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) conceded to Democrat Katie Hill on Tuesday, handing Democrats a huge pick-up and adding to their House majority. Hill is a first-time candidate and former nonprofit executive of a homeless services agency.

 

Ga.-06: Gun control activist Lucy McBath (D) unseated Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelOssoff tests waters for Georgia Senate run Jon Ossoff considering 2020 run for Senate in Georgia: report New House GOP campaign chairman lays out challenges for 2020 MORE (R-Ga.) in the Atlanta suburban district. In the nationally watched 2017 special election, Handel claimed the seat after a victory over Democrat Jon Ossoff. McBath's election flips Georgia's sixth district from red to blue for the first time in 30 years. McBath was motivated to run for the seat after her 16-year-old son was shot and killed. Her campaign received financial support from gun control advocates, including former New York City Mayor and billionaire donor Michael Bloomberg.

 

N.M.-02: Attorney Xochitl Torres Small (D) narrowly defeated state Rep. Yvette Harrell (R) in an upset to flip the seat vacated by GOP Rep. Steve PearceStevan (Steve) Edward PearceDem governors on 2020: Opposing Trump not enough Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures Torres Small flips New Mexico House seat for Dems MORE, who unsuccessfully ran for governor. Small was initially trailing, but after a day of counting thousands of absentee ballots, she took a narrow lead and claimed victory.

 

N.C.-09: Democratic veteran Dan McCready conceded to Republican Mark Harris in the race to replace GOP Rep. Mark Pittenger. Harris, a pastor, had knocked off Pittenger in a GOP primary earlier this year. Democrats had been angling to pick up the 9th District, with McCready outraising and outspending Harris.

 

Wash.-08: Pediatrician Kim Schrier (D) defeated former Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi, to flip the seat being vacated by outgoing Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertYoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm Outgoing GOP rep says law enforcement, not Congress should conduct investigations MORE (R-Wash.). Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Pompeo’s Cairo speech more ‘back to the future’ than break with past MORE won the suburban Seattle district by 3 points in 2016.

 

Uncalled races (all races have 100 percent of precincts reporting, unless otherwise specified):

Calif.-10: Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamCrazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Polling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race MORE (R) leads Democrat Josh Harder, 50.6 to 49.4 percent.

Calif.-39: Republican Young Kim leads Democrat Gil Cisneros, 51.3 to 48.7 percent.

Calif.-45: Rep. Mimi Walters (R) leads Democrat Katie Porter, 51.6 to 48.4 percent.

Calif.-48: Democrat Harley Rouda (D) leads Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherDemocrats need a worthy climate plan A timeline of the Mueller probe’s biggest developments Rohrabacher eyes new career as a screenwriter after losing reelection MORE (R), 51 to 49 percent.

Maine-02: Rep. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinMaine governor certifies Dem's win in disputed House race, but calls it 'stolen election' GOP lawmaker to drop challenge to Maine's new voting system GOP lawmaker to appeal judge's ruling upholding Maine's new voting system MORE (R) leads Democrat Jared Golden, 46.2 to 45.6 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting.

Texas-23: Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdLatest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House Juan Williams: Trump's wall is founded on fiction MORE (R) leads Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, 49.2 to 48.7 percent.

Utah-04: Democrat Ben McAdams leads Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveWomen’s equality not just ‘firsts’ CBS News in talks to hire Flake: report Former reps Mia Love, Luis Gutiérrez join CNN as commentators MORE (R), 51.3 to 48.7 percent, with 70 percent of precincts reporting.

  

Mississippi Senate runoff

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is out with a new ad reminding voters that even with the holidays approaching, Mississippi has an upcoming runoff for the Senate special election . "Right now, I know everyone is getting ready for Thanksgiving and thinking about family, food and football, not politics. I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and also remind you we have an important Senate runoff election on Nov. 27."

Hyde-Smith was appointed in April to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy MORE (R-Miss.). She faces former Agriculture Sec. Mike Espy (D) in the Nov. 27 runoff after none of the four candidates running on Nov. 6 cleared the 50-percent threshold to avoid a runoff.

Hyde-Smith ran slightly ahead of Espy in Tuesday's jungle primary, which allows all candidates to run regardless of party affiliation. She's favored to hold onto the seat for Republicans.

  

Ballot measures

Corporations and business groups spent hundreds of millions in this week's midterm elections to defeat ballot measures that would have harmed their bottom lines, reports The Hill's Reid Wilson.

Groups supporting or opposing ballot measures in states across the country spent at least an incredible $1.1 billion in 2018, according to data from the online political database Ballotpedia.

  

Race for the White House

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDemocratic dark horses could ride high in 2020 Swalwell: Trump will be impeached by Congress or by ballot box The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump invites leaders to White House | Trump hits back at Romney op-ed | Fights we're watching in the new year MORE (D-Calif.) is mounting a run for the White House, Politico reports. An aide to Swalwell didn't confirm the report, but said that the three-term congressman has been floating a possible run for months and that he could announce a decision sometime in the first part of 2019. While he hasn't made a formal announcement, Swalwell's allies have been touting his political investments in Iowa in recent weeks, and he's set to make another trip to the state this weekend.

 

The Hill's Election Countdown was written by Lisa Hagen, Max Greenwood, Kenna Sturgeon and James Wellemeyer.