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 NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA 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 DeSantisDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Florida gov expected to sign bill within days requiring felons to pay court fees before voting: report Poll: Trump and Biden statistically tied 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 GardnerMcSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats 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 PerlmutterRepublican lawmaker on decriminalizing marijuana: 'Cat is already out of the bag on that' The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back Colorado governor says he won't sign bill that aims to increase vaccination rates without key changes 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: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ind.) will chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Meanwhile, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoHouse panel advances bill to create cybersecurity standards for government IT devices Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Dems get behind businesswoman challenging Joni Ernst 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 PoliquinMaking the case for ranked-choice voting The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Maine governor certifies Dem's win in disputed House race, but calls it 'stolen election' 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) LoveCongressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Juan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base 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 WoodallIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Democratic rep says she's tired of 'sex-starved males' talking about abortion rights MSNBC host presses GOP lawmaker on why he didn't read Mueller report MORE (R) leads Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux by 0.4 percentage points.

N.Y.-27: Indicted Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsMichael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers The Hill's Morning Report - Barr stiff-arms House following Senate grilling MORE (R) leads Democrat Nate McMurray by 1.1 percentage points.

Texas-23: Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban 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 SmithNew Jersey governor signs rideshare safety law in honor of murdered college student House panel to hold hearings on SALT deduction cap Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster 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 McCarthyTop Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan Ocasio-Cortez on concentration camp remarks: Liz Cheney, GOP 'manipulating pain for political purposes' GOP rep: Trump needs to retaliate against Iran to deter other hostile nations MORE (R-Calif.) and Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Lawmakers 'failed us' says ICE chief Pelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill 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. ReedGOP hopes dim on reclaiming House Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban 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 FudgeBlack Democratic lawmaker on Buttigieg: 'Pete has a black problem' Federal employees turn their backs on Agriculture secretary after relocation plans announced Lawmakers clash after Dem reads letter on House floor calling Trump supporters 'racist,' 'dumb' 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 JordanOversight Republicans: 'Hundreds' of migrants in caravans have criminal histories Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question House Oversight Republicans release parts of Kobach, Trump officials' testimony on census citizenship question MORE (R-Ohio). Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill Lawmakers warn of 'grave situation' after drone shot down House Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill MORE (R-La.) is poised to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOcasio-Cortez on concentration camp remarks: Liz Cheney, GOP 'manipulating pain for political purposes' Ocasio-Cortez calls out Steve King, Liz Cheney amid controversy over concentration camp remarks Washington braces for Trump's next move on Iran 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 CochranThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Democrats deal with Mueller fallout 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 BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE (Calif.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad 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.