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 NelsonTrump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances 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 DeSantisGOP leaders dead set against Roy Moore in Alabama Workers find 27 possible graves near Florida's oldest reform school Trump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report 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 GardnerSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Cain says he 'won't run away from criticism' in push for Fed seat Graham says he's 'not interested' in Mueller testifying 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 Perlmutter20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform On The Money: Wells Fargo CEO steps down | Trump vows to keep funding for Special Olympics | House panel approves marijuana banking bill | Controversial Fed pick gains support in Senate House panel approves marijuana banking bill MORE and Gov. John Hickenlooper, who's also considered a potential 2020 White House hopeful.

 

Senate leadership in 2020: Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungGOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions Senate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats MORE (R-Ind.) will chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Meanwhile, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoLife in the minority at the FCC Dem senators call for Trump to restore release for pregnant migrants Jury rejects Harry Reid lawsuit against fitness band maker 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 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) LoveThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Juan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign 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 WoodallLatino group urges state lawmaker to make primary challenge to Democrat for Georgia House seat House Budget Republican says Dems request of Trump tax returns is attempt 'to weaponize' tax code GOP lawmaker predicts a Reagan-like immigration bill will land on Trump's desk MORE (R) leads Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux by 0.4 percentage points.

N.Y.-27: Indicted Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsFEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle McCarthy holds courtesy meeting with ex-Rep. Grimm Seven Republicans vote against naming post office after ex-Rep. Louise Slaughter MORE (R) leads Democrat Nate McMurray by 1.1 percentage points.

Texas-23: Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats Dems ramp up subpoena threats 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 SmithMain Street businesses need permanent tax relief to grow Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine The 8 Republicans who voted against Trump's anti-ObamaCare push 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 McCarthyWatchdog: Custodial staff alleged sexual harassment in lawmakers' offices John Legend, Chrissy Teigen lash out at Trump at Dem retreat Republicans call for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be referred to DOJ MORE (R-Calif.) and Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general 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. ReedLawmakers offer bipartisan resolution highlighting sexual assault prevention GOP lawmaker: Battle over Trump tax returns 'is going to have to be litigated' Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine 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 FudgeDems rally behind Omar as Trump escalates attacks Congressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as CBC Foundation chair amid lawsuit 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 JordanOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Cummings accuses Oversight Republicans of obstructing drug price probe Schumer staffer-turned-wrestling coach focus of new documentary MORE (R-Ohio). Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph Scalise20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform GOP to launch discharge petition on anti-BDS measure This week: Democrats revive net neutrality fight MORE (R-La.) is poised to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyRep. Cheney: Socialism 'driving the agenda of the Democratic Party' Dem lawmaker offers tool for 'filling in the blanks' of Green New Deal Judd Gregg: In praise of Mike Enzi 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 BidenCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris 2020 Dems ratchet up anti-corporate talk in bid to woo unions Resurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris Booker to supporter who wanted him to punch Trump: 'Black guys like us, we don't get away with that' Tulsi Gabbard fundraises off 4/20: 'Appalls me' that feds consider marijuana illegal MORE (Calif.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris Booker to supporter who wanted him to punch Trump: 'Black guys like us, we don't get away with that' 2020 Dems ratchet up anti-corporate talk in bid to woo unions 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.