Thirty-five U.S. Senate elections were held on November 6. Thirty-three of those elections were regular elections, and two others—in Minnesota and Mississippi, respectively—were special elections to fill vacancies. The stakes were high, as the Republican Party’s 51-49 Senate majority was on the line.
One U.S. Senate election occurred here in New York. On November 6, 2018, New Yorkers re-elected Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Sen. Gillibrand has served in the Senate since 2009, when she was appointed by then-Gov. David Paterson to fill the vacancy created when Sen. Hillary Clinton resigned from the Senate to become Secretary of State. Sen. Gillibrand is known for having shifted her positions abruptly to the left once she became a Senator, and for being one of the faces of the Me Too movement.
The Senator was challenged by Republican Chele Chiavacci Farley, an investment professional from New York City. While Ms. Farley ran a spirited campaign, her lack of name recognition and campaign funds—together with New York’s ever-increasing Democratic enrollment edge—proved to be insurmountable obstacles. Sen. Gillibrand won re-election by a sizeable margin of 65%-33%. This result will give Sen. Gillibrand a strong platform for her pro-abortion stance and her impassioned opposition to President Donald Trump and his policies, and will increase speculation that the Senator may seek the White House in 2020.
Elsewhere in the nation, Democrats toppled one Republican senator, as U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen defeated Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. However, Republicans unseated at least three Democratic incumbents in red states; businessman Mike Braun defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, State Attorney General Josh Hawley defeated Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was unseated by U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer in North Dakota. As of this writing, two races (in Arizona and Florida, respectively) remained too close to call, while a runoff election between the two leading Senate candidates in Mississippi is scheduled for November 26. In one race of special interest, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—a 2016 Republican presidential candidate and champion of conservatives across the country—was re-elected to a second term, eking out a victory over Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke in Texas.
As it currently stands, Republicans have netted two additional Senate seats and are assured a Senate majority in 2019. Depending on the results of the three outstanding races, the Republican Party may begin next year with anywhere from 51 to 54 Senate seats. This means two things. First, some Democrats’ desire to use the impeachment process to remove President Trump from office will—absent some new revelation—meet with a brick wall of Senate opposition. Second, the U.S. Senate will be able to continue confirming conservative judges to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. “’If the Democrats had acquired a majority in the Senate, they could have blocked every person President Trump nominated for [a federal judgeship],’ former House Speaker Newt Gingrich [wrote] in a Fox News op-ed…” Regarding judicial nominations, Speaker Gingrich added: “’This was the biggest achievement of Trump’s first two years, and now it is likely guaranteed to continue.’”