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 NelsonLobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world 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 DeSantisFauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Florida governor suspends all evictions and foreclosures in the state amid pandemic 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 GardnerRomney says he tested negative for coronavirus, will remain in quarantine Senate GOP super PAC books more than million in fall ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Markets expected to plunge amid partisan squabbling 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 PerlmutterDemocrats press World Bank chief on meeting with Ukrainian president amid Trump pressure 2019 was a historic year for marijuana law reform — here's why Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 MORE and Gov. John Hickenlooper, who's also considered a potential 2020 White House hopeful.

 

Senate leadership in 2020: Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungRand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate GOP lukewarm on talk of airline bailout Trump, GOP scramble to keep economy from derailing MORE (R-Ind.) will chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Meanwhile, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoBiden associates reach out to Holder about VP search Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate Biden should choose a Latina as his running mate 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 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 Maine Democrat announces he'll vote for only one article of impeachment against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Mass shootings put spotlight on Trump, Congress 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 WaltersFormer GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company GOP plots comeback in Orange County Crazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine 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) LoveThe biggest political upsets of the decade Former GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster 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 WoodallOmar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat House candidate asks FEC to let her use campaign funds for health insurance House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts MORE (R) leads Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux by 0.4 percentage points.

N.Y.-27: Indicted Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsHouse bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress Former Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years in prison for insider trading GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts MORE (R) leads Democrat Nate McMurray by 1.1 percentage points.

Texas-23: Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGarth Brooks accepts Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Texas kicks off critical battle for House control Gun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 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 SmithLawmakers propose waiving travel fees for coronavirus evacuations abroad Cheese, wine importers reeling from Trump trade fight House approves pro-union labor bill 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 McCarthyDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims MORE (R-Calif.) and Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNJ governor calls for assessment of coronavirus response after crisis abates Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus 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. ReedInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Overnight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran 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 FudgeClyburn urges Biden to pick black woman as running mate: 'African American women need to be rewarded' for loyalty Clyburn takes victory lap after Biden wins big on Super Tuesday Establishment Democrats rallying behind Biden 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 JordanJustice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court The relief bill and public broadcasting: A missed opportunity Meadows joins White House in crisis mode MORE (R-Ohio). Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Pelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid MORE (R-La.) is poised to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneySelf-quarantined New York lawmaker: 'We should be in total lockdown' On The Money: Trump hopes to reopen economy by Easter | GOP senators expect stimulus vote on Wednesday | Democratic leaders forecast at least two more relief bills Trump triggers congressional debate with comments on reopening economy 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 CochranEspy wins Mississippi Senate Democratic primary Bottom Line Mike Espy announces Mississippi Senate bid 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 BidenOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search Biden confirms he's considering Whitmer for VP MORE (Calif.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act 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.