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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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 secretary of state who resigned apologizes for blackface photos The Hill's Morning Report — Trump complicates border wall negotiations Parkland parents ask Pulitzer panel to honor local paper for school shooting coverage 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 GardnerBipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia Dems seeking path to Senate majority zero-in on Sun Belt Lawmakers eager for 5G breakthrough 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 PerlmutterBusinesses need bank accounts — marijuana shops included Congress poised to put Trump in veto bind Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE and Gov. John Hickenlooper, who's also considered a potential 2020 White House hopeful.

 

Senate leadership in 2020: Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungIvanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Trade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal Senators reintroduce bill to punish Saudis for Khashoggi killing MORE (R-Ind.) will chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Meanwhile, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSchumer urging ex-congressional candidate Amy McGrath to run against McConnell Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona Former McCain chief of staff says he will not run for Senate in Arizona in 2020 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 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-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 WaltersCrazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Ryan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results Election Countdown: Abrams ends fight in Georgia governor's race | Latest on Florida recount | Booker, Harris head to campaign in Mississippi Senate runoff | Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority 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) LoveTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor Gillum joining CNN as political commentator 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 WoodallBipartisan House group heads to Camp David retreat The Hill's Morning Report — Lawmakers: We are closing on a deal Georgia Republican Rob Woodall won’t seek reelection in 2020 MORE (R) leads Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux by 0.4 percentage points.

N.Y.-27: Indicted Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsHouse Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 The Memo: Pelosi ups ante in Trump showdown Pelosi tells Trump no State of the Union on Tuesday MORE (R) leads Democrat Nate McMurray by 1.1 percentage points.

Texas-23: Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdImmigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security Advocacy groups want border-for-Dreamers deal ahead of Feb. 15 deadline Bill Maher draws backlash for making Popeyes comment to black congressman 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 SmithDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales Cuomo to meet with Trump over SALT deduction cap 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 McCarthyBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency Dem rep hopes Omar can be 'mentored,' remain on Foreign Affairs panel MORE (R-Calif.) and Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency 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. ReedDems hit GOP on pre-existing conditions at panel's first policy hearing A rare display of real political courage Overnight Health Care: Dems hit GOP with ObamaCare lawsuit vote | GOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses | House Dems aim for early victories on drug pricing | CDC declares lettuce e-coli outbreak over 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 FudgeCongressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as CBC Foundation chair amid lawsuit Reporter says to expect Capitol Hill to take action on North Carolina's 9th District 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 JordanRod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power Cohen to testify before three congressional panels before going to prison MORE (R-Ohio). Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTexas man with politician hit list, illegally 3D printed rifle sentenced to eight years The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? Dems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland MORE (R-La.) is poised to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Liz Cheney calls for House vote on Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Liz Cheney mocks Booker over factory farming comments: 'I support PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals' 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 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'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 BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates Feinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 2020 Dems slam Trump's plan to declare national emergency MORE (Calif.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 2020 Dems slam Trump's plan to declare national emergency NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates 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.