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Armed Services committees and the election: Here’s what we know


WASHINGTON — As results for key congressional races, and the presidency, continue to roll in Wednesday morning, a major shakeup for the Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to materialize.

But here is what we do know, as of Wednesday afternoon. This story will be updated as results come in.

• Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, the ranking member on Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, was still locked in a very tight race against businessman John James, a former Army helicopter pilot ― even as Vice President Joe Biden was projected to defeat President Donald Trump there on Wednesday afternoon.

Holding Peters’ seat is vital for Democratic hopes of retaking the Senate, which they haven’t held since 2015. Democrats need to gain at least three seats and for Biden to win or win four if Trump wins reelection.

Sens. Thom Tillis, of North Carolina; David Perdue, of Georgia, and Dan Sullivan, of Alaska — all Republican subcommittee chairmen who faced tough races in battleground states — had not had their races called. Tillis (who has declared victory) and Perdue appeared to have broad leads over their rivals, while Alaska’s tally is expected to take days as officials count mail-in ballots.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, had a similarly tough race but denied Democrats what would have been a key pickup for seizing control of the Senate. Ernst, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee chair and a member of Senate Republican leadership, is the first female combat veteran elected to Congress.

SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., both won reelection handily, and if the Senate stays in Republican hands, they will almost certainly stay in their leadership roles.

• Airland Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cotton, R-Ark., had no Democratic challenger and won reelection, and Cyber Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rounds, R-S.D., won as well. New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, another senior member of the panel, easily won a third term. All three were projected wins.

• SASC Republican Sen. Martha McSally, the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, lost to Mark Kelly, an astronaut and retired Navy captain, in Arizona. She had yet to concede, however.

• SASC Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., lost decisively to Republican opponent Tommy Tuberville.

House Armed Services Committee, Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., soundly defeated his Republican challenger, while two lead contenders to replace Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, as ranking member ― Reps. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and Mike Rogers, R-Ala., ― also won reelection.

• Two freshman Democrats on HASC ― Reps. Kendra Horn, of Oklahoma, and Xochitl Torres Small, of New Mexico ― lost seats Democrats flipped in 2018. As of Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., was trailing his Republican challenger but refused to concede until absentee ballots are counted.

• Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, a former Air Force one-star whose policy positions sometimes clashed with Trump, carved out a reelection win. Because Nebraska awards its electoral votes by congressional district, NE-02 was also a crucial win for Biden.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., won reelection. Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official, is at the top of an influential class of Democratic freshman who have hands-on national security experience. Addressing supporters Wednesday, she reportedly said Biden will win in Michigan, but there may be a tumultuous transfer of power.

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