Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP

Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP
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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 719 days until the 2020 elections. But we're not done with the 2018 vote yet...

 

Is the recount over yet? It sure doesn't look like it.

A crucial deadline for submitting machine recount results to the Florida Division of Elections came and went on Thursday afternoon.

Unofficial recount results posted on the Florida Division of Elections website on Thursday afternoon confirmed what many had expected. The Senate race between Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) is now headed to a hand recount. The same goes for the agriculture commissioner's race between Democrat Nikki Fried and Republican Matt Caldwell.

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The recount results aren't as promising for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum. He's still trailing Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida first lady to miss Women for Trump event due to planned execution Florida governor orders criminal investigation into handling of Jeffrey Epstein case Groups ask court to block ex-felon voting law in Florida MORE in the governor's race by a little less than 33,700 votes, or about 0.41 points. That puts him out of range to trigger a hand recount. But Gillum said Thursday that he's not giving up, saying that tens of thousands of votes remained to be counted.

"As today's unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted," he said in a statement. "We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process. Voters need to know that their decision to participate in this election, and every election, matters. It is not over until every legally casted vote is counted."

 

Max has more on the Florida Senate hand recount here.

 

Some counties on Thursday, though, blew past the machine recount deadline altogether.

Palm Beach is the epicenter of recount-related troubles. The county had to fly in mechanics on Wednesday after its aging ballot-counting machines overheated, forcing the county to recount some 175,000 votes. As expected, local election officials there missed the 3 p.m. deadline on Thursday.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, Hillsborough County's Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said that the county did not submit machine recount results because the recount turned up 846 fewer votes than the original tally. Latimer said that if manual recounts are ordered, the county would begin the process on Friday at 9 a.m.

 

Senate showdown

Former state Sen. Mike Johnston (D) told National Journal he's "seriously thinking about" running against Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit Inslee seeking third term as governor after ending presidential bid MORE (R-Colo.) in 2020. Johnston, who unsuccessfully ran for Colorado governor, said he'd decide by year's end.

 

In addition to Johnston, The Denver Post has a list of other potential challengers to Gardner. Those names include: Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, Rep. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterAppetite for Democratic term limits fizzling out Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp On The Money: Liberal Dems warn moderates against changes to minimum wage bill | House grapples with Facebook's Libra | Congress, White House inch closer to budget deal | Blue states sue over tax law regulations MORE and Gov. John Hickenlooper, who's also considered a potential 2020 White House hopeful.

 

Senate leadership in 2020: Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sale GOP chairman yanks Saudi bill after Democrats muscle through tougher language MORE (R-Ind.) will chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Meanwhile, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDemocrats press Trump Treasury picks on donor disclosure guidelines McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment MORE (D-Nev.) will be chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. She'll be the first Latina to helm the committee.

 

House races

Democrats have picked up another seat, bringing the total number of flipped seats to 35.

Marine veteran Jared Golden (D) defeated Rep. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinThe Hill's Morning Report - Mass shootings put spotlight on Trump, Congress Ex-GOP lawmaker from Maine says he won't run for his old seat in 2020 Making the case for ranked-choice voting MORE (R-Maine) in a ranked-choice runoff Thursday, more than a week after Election Day. It was the first use of ranked balloting in a congressional election, according to The Associated Press.

 

Where we're at...

Uncalled races that lean Dem:

Calif.-45: Democrat Katie Porter leads Rep. Mimi WaltersMarian (Mimi) Elaine WaltersGOP plots comeback in Orange County Crazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Ryan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results MORE (R) by 1.6 percentage points.

N.Y.-22: Democrat Anthony Brindisi leads Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) by 0.6 percentage points.

Utah-04: Democrat Ben McAdams leads Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveFormer GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R) by 0.4 percentage points.

 

Uncalled races that lean Republican:

Calif.-39: Republican Young Kim leads Democrat Gil Cisneros by 122 votes

Ga.-07: Rep. Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallHouse Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 House GOP fears retirement wave will lead to tsunami MORE (R) leads Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux by 0.4 percentage points.

N.Y.-27: Indicted Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsNate McMurray launches second challenge against GOP Rep. Chris Collins Michael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers MORE (R) leads Democrat Nate McMurray by 1.1 percentage points.

Texas-23: Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Democrat running for Will Hurd's seat raises over million in first 100 days of campaign Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (R) leads Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones by 0.5 percentage points.

 

The blue wave has wiped out large swaths of Republican lawmakers in California and New Jersey's congressional delegations. In New Jersey, Democrats flipped four seats, leaving Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey The 9 House Republicans who support background checks The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE as the lone GOP congressman in the state. It's the first time since 1912 that New Jersey has had only one Republican lawmaker in Congress.

 

Meanwhile, in California, Democrats have flipped four GOP seats so far, while two other races in red districts are still too close to call. Republicans have had a long-time grip in affluent Orange County, but like many others across the country, suburban voters revolted against the party. The battle for California is seen as a proxy war between Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (R-Calif.) and Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMoulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Conservatives push Trump tariff relief over payroll tax cuts Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (D-Calif.), both of whom are poised to lead their respective parties next year.

 

House leadership: In the race for Speaker of the House, Pelosi is continuing to project confidence that she'll have the gavel next year, as she faces her toughest challenge from a small but growing group of critics.

"I intend to win the Speakership with Democratic votes," Pelosi said during her first press conference in the Capitol since the Democrats won back the House in last week's elections. "I have overwhelming support within my caucus to be Speaker of the House, and certainly we have many, many people in our caucus who could serve in this capacity."

 

Amid her challenge to secure the votes, Rep. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedRepublicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security The Democratic plan for smaller paychecks House passes bill to update tax code to help same-sex married couples MORE (R-N.Y.), co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said he and some other Republicans are committed to backing Pelosi as speaker in exchange for enacting an overhaul of House rules.

 

Among the insurgents opposing Pelosi, Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeHarris wins endorsement of former CBC Chairwoman Marcia Fudge The Hill's Morning Report — DOJ's planned executions stir new debate Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-Ohio) has been floated as a potential challenger to the California Democrat. Fudge said Thursday she's been "overwhelmed" by the support she's gotten from colleagues. She told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that she's "thinking" about running for speaker.

"People are asking me to do it, and I am thinking about it," Fudge told the publication. "I need to give it some thought and see if I have an interest. I am at the very beginning of this process. It is just in discussion at this point."

 

Meanwhile, Republicans overwhelmingly elected McCarthy to be minority leader, easily defeating conservative Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews CNN slams GOP for not appearing on network after mass shootings, conservatives fire back MORE (R-Ohio). Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseManchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Sunday shows - Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet grabs spotlight Sanders: Trump doesn't 'want to see somebody get shot' but 'creates the climate for it' MORE (R-La.) is poised to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Steve King says 'left-wing media' and GOP leadership owe him apology after rape, incest comments MORE (R-Wyo.) as GOP conference chair -- a post her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held more than three decades earlier.

 

State watch

Georgia's gubernatorial race remains undecided with Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams locked in an unresolved race.

 

On Thursday, both campaigns celebrated victories in a split decision from a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee, ruled that the secretary of state not certify election results until absentee ballots with missing or incorrect birth dates are counted, which was a win for the Abrams campaign. Meanwhile, the judge also sided with Kemp's campaign on another dispute, ruling that counties aren't required to accept absentee ballots with inaccurate addresses or provisional ballots cast by people who tried to vote in the wrong county.

 

Democrats won more than 300 state legislative seats and over a dozen prominent statewide offices last Tuesday, but the gains scattered across the country are more of a rising tide than a big wave, The Hill's Reid Wilson reports.

Democrats took back control of seven legislative chambers.

Democrats gained more seats than Republicans in 36 of the 46 states that elected legislators this year. Meanwhile, Republicans picked up more seats than Democrats in five states. Republicans will hold at least 3,855 of the nation's 7,383 state legislative seats. Democrats will hold at least 3,434, with a few dozen races that are uncalled.

 

Mississippi runoff

The ad wars are beginning in Mississippi's runoff between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D). The winner of the Nov. 27 runoff will serve out the remaining two years of former Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' MORE's (R) term.

 

On the Republican side, Hyde-Smith's campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate Leadership Fund are all on the air. On the Democratic side, Espy's campaign and Senate Majority PAC are also on the airwaves, according to Medium Buying.

 

Democrats' Senate Majority PAC will be up on the air Friday with a statewide TV buy attacking Hyde-Smith. "Cindy Hyde-Smith got paid to lobby in Washington for health insurance companies," the ad's narrator said. "Now she's taking tens of thousands in campaign money from the insurance industry."

Meanwhile, the Espy campaign is running a positive spot about his past tenure serving in Congress, which was from 1987 to 1993. He called for bipartisanship and touting that his first bill was signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan.

 

Race for the White House

Potential 2020 White House hopefuls are participating in "friend-raisers," a small, informal gathering where donors can meet and cultivate relationships without cutting checks, The Hill's Amie Parnes reports.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Moulton says Biden would make 'fantastic president' MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (Calif.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (N.J.), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are among the Democratic politicians meeting with donors at the gatherings.