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Did Obama Write a Private Letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader?

Did Obama Write a Private Letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader?

Leader.ir - Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama wrote a private letter to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last month, offering cooperation in the fight against ISIS as an incentive to agree to a nuclear deal, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deadline for a deal is in two weeks.White House officials will not confirm -- or deny -- that a letter was sent.“I’m not in a position to discuss private correspondence between the president and any world leader. I can tell you that the policy that the president and his administration have articulated about Iran remains unchanged. The United States is engaged in conversations with Iran in the context of the P5+1 talks to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at Thursday's briefing. The State Department offered no confirmation or denial of the letter either. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki deferred to the White House on questions about the letter.If true, it would be at least the fourth reported time Obama has written Khamenei since taking office.

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Obama Awards Civil War Veteran Medal of Honor

Obama Awards Civil War Veteran Medal of Honor

Wisconsin Historical Society(WASHINGTON) -- First Lt. Alonzo Cushing was decorated Thursday with the nation's highest military honor -- more than 150 years after he was shot three times and later killed by Confederate forces in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.President Obama made a rare presentation of the Medal of Honor to a Civil War veteran during a small ceremony in the Roosevelt Room with Cushing’s relatives.“This medal is a reminder that no matter how long it takes, it is never too late to do the right thing,” Obama said.Cushing commanded an Army artillery battery that was defending Cemetery Ridge in a grueling fight that would become a turning point in the Civil War. He continued to push his men forward despite being wounded.“I’m mindful that I might not be standing here today as president had it not been for the ultimate sacrifices of those courageous Americans,” Obama said. “Today we honor just one of those men, Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing, who, as Lincoln said, gave their last full measure of devotion.”Helen Ensign, Cushing’s cousin twice removed, accepted the medal on his behalf.The award marked the culmination of a 40-year effort by the family and lawmakers from Wisconsin, where Cushing was born. Reps. Ron Kind (D) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R) both attended the ceremony.The honor for Cushing required a congressional exemption because under rules for the award, which was created during the Civil War, it must be presented within three years of a qualifying act of heroism.More than 1,500 Civil War veterans received Medals of Honor, but only enlisted men were authorized to receive it initially. Congress changed that a few months before the Battle of Gettysburg, but Cushing was never nominated. It was widely thought that promotions were enough recognition for officers.The 22-year-old Cushing, a graduate of West Point, where he is now buried along with 16 other Medal of Honor recipients, subsequently took on legendary status for his leadership under fire. It was not until a woman in his hometown of Delafield, Wisconsin -- Margaret Zerwekh -- pushed forward his case 40 years ago that the military and Congress considered him for the award.“When she discovered this story, she spent over 25 years researching, writing letters and raising her voice to ensure that this American soldier received the recognition that he so richly deserved,” Obama said. “And what’s more, she even managed to bring Republicans and Democrats together to make this happen. Margaret, we may call on you again sometime in the future.”

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Meet Ben Carson: First Republican to Throw His Hat in 2016 Ring

Meet Ben Carson: First Republican to Throw His Hat in 2016 Ring

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The 2016 race for the White House has already gotten started -- and it looks like Dr. Ben Carson is first in the ring.Carson, a famous pediatric neurosurgeon and conservative political star, will air a nearly 40-minute-long ad introducing himself to the American people this weekend, an aide to Carson confirms to ABC News.The documentary titled A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America will air in 22 states and Washington, DC. The paid video will detail some of his biography and family life, including his rise from being born to a single mother with a poor childhood in Detroit to director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins for almost 40 years and to potential 2016 presidential candidate.Carson first became a conservative star last year when he created a buzz at the National Prayer Breakfast, speaking out about political correctness, health care and taxes in front of an audience that included President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

He also called for a private health care savings plan and a flat tax in a speech that went viral and led to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal titled "Ben Carson for President." He is known as a fierce opponent of the president’s health care law known as Obamacare.An ABC News/Washington Post poll from last month of the potential 2016 presidential candidates showed Carson in seventh place garnering 7 percent of the vote after other notables including Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio.

Carson has a grassroots effort to draft him for a 2016 presidential run that has raised millions for the effort. In an interview last month with Jorge Ramos on ABC News' sister network, Fusion, he said he’s considering a White House run.“No, I don’t want to be president. Why would any sane person want to do that?” Carson said, acknowledging he has noticed the support. “I think I have to consider that, with so many clamoring for me to do it.”The Washington Times first reported the news of Carson’s video. A production company run by Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, is paying for the airtime. They also filmed the documentary. Williams is Carson’s business manager.

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How Potential 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates Fared on Campaign Trail

How Potential 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates Fared on Campaign Trail

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- We know that Election Day 2014 left the Democrats seeing red. But with midterms behind us, the focus now shifts to 2016.

The midterms gave potential 2016 presidential nominees a chance to hit the campaign trail early -- for other candidates, of course.Bill and Hillary Clinton maintained a frenzied schedule on the campaign trail for Democrats. As did Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. But as it turns out, the candidates they endorsed -- like so many Democrats -- didn’t fare so well, despite their travels.Big name Republicans who might end up running for president in 2016 hit the stump too: Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry.ABC News took a look at how well the rumored 2016 contenders did for their candidates:

Chris Christie

Campaigned For: 33 Total Wins: 24 Total Losses: 9

Mitt Romney

Campaigned For: 32 Total Wins: 22 Total Losses: 5 5 Undecided

Jeb Bush

Campaigned For: 28 Total Wins: 22 Total Losses: 4 2 Undecided

Rand Paul

Campaigned For: 24 Total Wins: 17 Total Losses: 6 1 Undecided

Marco Rubio

Campaigned For: 15 Total Wins: 11 Total Losses: 4

Rick Perry

Campaigned For: 17 Total Wins: 11 Total Losses: 6

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Yes, President Obama, Mitch McConnell Does Like Bourbon

Yes, President Obama, Mitch McConnell Does Like Bourbon

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — President Obama says he’s not sure what type of liquor Sen. Mitch McConnell prefers, but the Kentucky Republican is well-known to have a thirst for bourbon.“The best way to drink it, in my opinion, is to make a Manhattan, which is a combination of bourbon and other unknown substances,” McConnell told Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox in an interview last year.  “Drop a couple of cherries on top of it, make sure there’s ice there, and it’s a terrific drink around Christmastime, which I frequently offer to my guests.”Obama on Wednesday extended an invitation to McConnell, his long-time political rival, to enjoy a glass of Kentucky bourbon together -- which some have dubbed the Bourbon Summit. But the president conceded, “I don’t know what his preferred drink is.”There was no official response from McConnell’s camp to Obama’s invitation, though aides told ABC News the likely soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader certainly likes the drink.McConnell has been a passionate promoter of the spirit, which originates in Kentucky and remains a top state export. Earlier this year, he secured a congressional resolution prohibiting the import of “whiskey purporting to call itself bourbon.”

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Manchin, King Will Continue Caucusing with Democrats

Manchin, King Will Continue Caucusing with Democrats

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — A rotten Tuesday for Senate Democrats brightened a bit Wednesday when two free-thinking lawmakers said they would continue caucusing with the soon-to-be minority party.There had been concerns that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and independent Maine Senator Angus King would cast their allegiance with Republicans, who will run the Senate come next January.However, when asked by Politico if he would stick with the Democrats, Manchin replied, "Yeah and I’ve said this: I’m a West Virginia Democrat, it’s a lot different than being a Washington Democrat.”Manchin is a fiscal conservative who leans left on social issues.Meanwhile, King said at a press conference that he too would still caucus with Democrats if for no other reason than Republican Susan Collins, considered a moderate in the GOP, is doing the same with her party.However, King added that he'll work to pull Democrats more "to the center."Republicans now maintain a 52-45 edge in the Senate with the outcome of three races yet to be decided.

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Obama’s Short List For Next Attorney General Just Got Shorter

Obama’s Short List For Next Attorney General Just Got Shorter

QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The coming Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate means President Obama now has an even shorter list of candidates to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, and political concerns have already kept one qualified contender from serious consideration, sources told ABC News.“The calculus and timing of [the president’s choice] has been impacted by what happened yesterday,” one White House source said, referring to the midterm elections that will soon give Republicans control of the Senate. “The issue now is, ‘Who can you get through under the current circumstances?’”At a post-election press conference Wednesday, President Obama said he is “looking at” a “number of outstanding candidates,” and he is “confident” that his nominee “will get confirmed by the Senate.” But for that to happen, the president’s pick “has to be somebody who is not compromised,” the White House source said.The source was referring to Alejandro Mayorkas, the number two at the Department of Homeland Security whose name has surfaced as a potential contender even as he remains in the crosshairs of a lingering internal probe into complaints of alleged impropriety years earlier.White House officials view him as “extremely competent,” the White House source said. Another source described Mayorkas as particularly “well-liked” around the White House, and a former administration official told ABC News that those who know Mayorkas suspect becoming attorney general is his “dream job.” He was U.S. attorney for the Central District of California under the Clinton administration.But the internal probe, launched two years ago by the DHS inspector general’s office, has essentially rendered him out of contention, according to the White House source. “You can’t divorce [it]” from however qualified and effective he may be, the source said.The DHS inspector general’s office has specifically been looking into allegations that Mayorkas inappropriately intervened on behalf of an electric car company co-founded by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who at the time was acting as a Democratic operative. Republicans boycotted the confirmation hearing for Mayorkas, who “unequivocally” denied any wrongdoing and insisted he “never, ever…exercised undue influence.” Mayorkas said he met with McAuliffe to hear complaints that applications for visas to foreign investors were taking too long to be processed.Mayorkas was confirmed five months later, after Democrats changed Senate rules allowing a nominee to be confirmed with a simple majority – 51 votes – rather than the 60 votes it used to take.Come January, Republicans will hold at least 52 seats in the Senate, which must vote to confirm any major political nomination. So now President Obama must navigate the change to Senate rules made by his own party. Sources say one name likely on the president’s short list is Donald Verrilli, the U.S. solicitor general who has been arguing before the Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government for more than three years.As for Mayorkas, a spokeswoman for the likely next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Grassley’s many speeches and letters questioning Mayorkas’ conduct “might give you an indication as to how [he] feels about a Mayorkas nomination to be Attorney General.”Privately, though, even some Republican skeptics on Capitol Hill are now praising Mayorkas and saying he’s mended long-neglected relationships. In addition, the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to President Obama last week urging him to nominate Mayorkas. And in an interview with ABC News this week, a former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official defended Mayorkas.“In all the time that I was there, I never saw a single improper act by [him],” said Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel for USCIS until late last year.DHS inspector general John Roth promised lawmakers eight months ago that he would make the Mayorkas probe a “top priority” and complete it swiftly.Emails to spokespeople for DHS, the DHS inspector general and the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee were not immediately returned.

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Mitch McConnell Says He Will ‘Trust But Verify’ His New Relationship with Obama

Mitch McConnell Says He Will ‘Trust But Verify’ His New Relationship with Obama

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he intends to employ a “trust but verify” relationship with President Obama when he takes the helm as the new Senate majority leader, saying voters sent a clear message that both parties must govern.“The American people have spoken. They’ve given us divided government,” McConnell told reporters on the day after Republicans captured control of the Senate and expanded their majority in the House. “When the American people chose divided government, I don’t think it means they don't want us to do anything. I think it means they want us to look for areas of agreement.”It’s an open question how much agreement the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House will forge, given the high degree of partisan acrimony that has been festering in Washington. But at a post-election news conference, McConnell listed trade agreements and corporate tax reform as two potential early areas of compromise with the president. “Those are two very significant areas of potential agreement,” McConnell said.A first order of business when Republicans assume their majority in January, McConnell said, is making the Senate function again."From an institutional point of view, the Senate needs to be fixed,” McConnell said. “The Senate in the last few years basically doesn’t do anything. We don’t even vote.”Under his watch, he said there would be no government shutdowns or political brinksmanship over the prospect of defaulting on the national debt, even though he acknowledged that no leader has complete control of all senators. He pointed out that he received a congratulatory call from Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who has castigated members of his party for compromising too quickly with Democrats.“He just called to congratulate me on my election and was impressed with the margin,” McConnell said, pausing as he chuckled at the podium. “And I was pretty happy about it myself. We had a good -– we had a good, friendly conversation.”McConnell won with the largest margin of any of his Senate campaigns, delivering a 15-point triumph over his Democratic rival, Alison Lundergan Grimes. No one was targeted more aggressively by Democrats than McConnell, who was re-elected to his sixth term. As he prepares to assume the role of Senate majority leader, a position he has aspired to since his early years as an intern in the Senate, McConnell struck a pragmatic tone.He said the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act was unrealistic, saying: “The veto pen is a pretty powerful tool.”Republicans have a majority of at least 52 seats, which could expand to as many as 55 when the undecided races are called. McConnell said the new class of Republican senators were eager to come to Washington and accomplish something.“The vast majority of them don’t feel that they were sent to Washington to just fight all the time,” McConnell said. “And as I’ve said repeatedly here, divided government is not the reason to do nothing. In fact, divided government frequently has been pretty productive.”

“Last night was a big night for Republicans, and this is a great day for the country,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus boasted at a news conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, adding that the GOP electoral wave was not only “a direct rejection” of President Obama’s agenda, but also a referendum on Hillary Clinton ahead of her potential 2016 campaign.

“President Obama said very clearly that his policies were on the ballot. And voters were very clear in return, they want nothing to do with the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,” he said. “Up and down the ballot, these were the president’s candidates. These were the Clinton’s candidates. And they lost.”

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Forget the Beer, Obama and McConnell Head Straight for the Hard Stuff

Forget the Beer, Obama and McConnell Head Straight for the Hard Stuff

US Senate/Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has met one-on-one with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell only once or twice in six years.  But after the Democrats got trounced in Tuesday’s midterm elections, the president said he’s ready to join the Kentucky Republican for a drink.“You know, actually, I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” Obama told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during a news conference Wednesday at the White House.  “I don’t know what his preferred drink is, but, you know, my interactions with Mitch McConnell, he — you know, he has always been very straightforward with me.”The fact that Obama doesn’t know whether McConnell enjoys bourbon was a telling illustration of how little the men have interacted and know about each other personally.  McConnell regularly talks about bourbon as one of his favorite drinks. Kentucky produces 95 percent of all bourbon made in the U.S.Obama’s openness to sharing a drink with the Republican leader follows a public dismissal of the idea at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress. ‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask,” Obama said wryly in 2013. “Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”Sen. McConnell responded with a tweet at the time, with a photo of an empty seat at a Kentucky bar.

 

@BarackObama @Eastwood_ Greetings from coal country! Hazard, KY -MM pic.twitter.com/6IgV6sEL8j

— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) April 29, 2013

American distillers and the Kentucky bourbon lobby seized on Obama’s comments Wednesday, extending various offers to host or supply an Obama-McConnell “#BourbonSummit.”

 

 

#BourbonSummit We're ready, corner of 13th & Eye pic.twitter.com/3aGfRy8dvC

— DISCUS (@DistilledSpirit) November 5, 2014

 

 

We are ready to serve our country and help with the #Bourbon summit with Pres. Obama and Sen. McConnell pic.twitter.com/S92iHBFags

— KentuckyBourbonTrail (@kybourbontrail) November 5, 2014

 

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Obama Admits ‘Republicans Had a Good Night’

Obama Admits ‘Republicans Had a Good Night’

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- A day after Republicans took control of the Senate and gained seats in the House, President Obama on Wednesday admitted the GOP “had a good night" on Tuesday.“Obviously, Republicans had a good night and they deserve credit for running good campaigns,” the president said during a news conference in the East Room of the White House.“What stands out to me though, is the American people sent a message,” he continued. “They expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. They expect us to focus on their ambitions and not ours. They want us to get the job done.”In a devastating night for Democrats, Republicans took control of the Senate, picking up at least seven Democrat-held seats -- in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.With the Louisiana Senate race headed to a runoff between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy, and the Virginia and Alaska Senate races too close to call, there’s a chance the GOP could gain three additional seats by December.The Republican party also picked up more than a dozen seats in the House and several Democratic-held governorships.“There are times you’re a politician and you’re disappointed with election results,” the president acknowledged. But, “it doesn’t make me mopey, it energizes me, because it means democracy is working.”Obama, who was largely absent from the campaign trail in key battleground states this cycle, brushed off the suggestion that Democrats may have kept him away."I love campaigning. I love talking to ordinary people," Obama responded. "But I’m also a practical guy, and ultimately every candidate out there had to make their own decisions about what they thought would be most helpful for them.""If it was more helpful for them for me to be behind the scenes, I’m happy to do it," he added.Asked if the results of Tuesday night’s election would force him recalibrate his agenda during his final two years in office, Obama said he’d continue to push for his policies but would work with Republicans to identify areas of agreement."The American people overwhelmingly believe that this town doesn’t work well ... and as president, they rightly hold me accountable to do more to make it work properly. I’m the guy who’s elected by everybody,” Obama said. "They want me to push hard to close some of these divisions, break through the gridlock, and get some of these things done. So the most important thing that I can do is get stuff done.”"I’m looking forward to [Republicans] putting forth a very specific agenda,” he added. “If there are ideas the Republicans have that I have confidence will make things better for ordinary Americans, the fact that a Republican is suggesting it, rather than a Democrat, that’ll be irrelevant to me.”"I maybe have a naive confidence that if we continue to focus on the American people and not on our own ambitions or image … at the end of the day, I’m going to look back and be able to say, the American people are better off than they were before I was president," he said.On the issue of immigration reform, Obama said he felt “obligated to do everything I can do lawfully” to reform the nation’s broken immigration system, but promised that any executive orders would be “replaced and supplanted by action by Congress.”“You send me a bill that I can sign, and those actions go away,” the president said. “I’m eager to see what they have to offer. But what I’m not going to do is just wait.”Asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl about his relationship with the opposition party’s leadership, Obama called their interactions "cordial."“The good news is that now Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are from the same party. I think they can come together and decide what their agenda is,” he said. “I think we can have a productive relationship.”“Actually, I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” he added.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who defeated Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, is posed to become the Senate’s next majority leader.Obama and McConnell spoke by phone earlier Wednesday, Obama told reporters.According to a White House official, McConnell missed the president’s initial congratulatory call at 1 a.m. because he’d already retired for the night.The president also phoned dozens of House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates from both parties, including the current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as well as Democratic Senator-elect Gary Peters, and Republican Senators-elect Tom Cotton, Mike Rounds, Shelley Moore Capito and James Lankford, according to a White House official.

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Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy Wins Re-Election

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy Wins Re-Election

(L) FEMA (R) Ct State Dept(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- Democratic Gov. Dannell Malloy has fended off a tough challenge from Republican candidate Tom Foley. As of Wednesday afternoon with just over 96-percent of precincts reporting, Malloy had just over 50-percent of the vote to Foley’s 48-percent. Malloy also leads Foley with over 23,000 votes. Foley conceded the race Wednesday afternoon. In the concession speech posted on his website, Foley did not congratulate his opponent, but made clear he will not contest the results.The race was a re-match, as the two faced off in 2010, but back then Malloy only beat Foley by about 6,000 votes.

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Nine Republicans Who Could Shake Up Things in the New Congress

Nine Republicans Who Could Shake Up Things in the New Congress

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There are a lot of new Republicans headed to Congress next year, but some members of the largest GOP wave since the Hoover administration stick out more than others.Here are some of the newly minted senators and members of Congress likely to shake things up at the Capitol:JONI ERNST, Senator-Elect, Iowa

Joni Ernst is a hog-castrating, Harley-riding Sunday school teacher, and her next stop is the U.S. Senate. Ernst, 44, catapulted to national stardom when she released an ad titled “Squeal,” in which she described castrating hogs. It was a theme she carried throughout the campaign, all the way to election night.“We did it, from the biscuit line at Hardee’s to the United States Senate,” Ernst, an Iowa state senator, said as she declared victory Tuesday evening. "We are going to make them squeal.”Ernst will be the first female ever to represent Iowa in the Senate and will add to the post-9/11 generation of veterans serving in the Senate. She will likely play an influential role in the 2016 presidential race, as would-be candidates try to court her before the first-in-the-nation caucuses.TOM COTTON, Senator-Elect, ArkansasTom Cotton has experienced a meteoric rise in the Republican Party, serving just one term in the House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate.At the age of 37, Cotton, who holds two Harvard degrees, will be the youngest lawmaker to serve in the next U.S. Senate come January. Throughout his campaign, Cotton touted his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan as preparing him to deal with national security issues, like the threats posed by ISIS.CORY GARDNER, Senator-Elect, ColoradoCory Gardner, a 40-year-old congressman, defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall Tuesday partly by billing himself as a new generation of Republican lawmaker.He supports alternative energy along with over-the-counter birth control, which helped him fend of Democrats’ attacks against his record on women’s health, and is seen as one of his party’s rising stars.

BEN SASSE, Senator-Elect, NebraskaWhile Nebraska’s newest Republican senator has never held elected office, Ben Sasse, 43, is no political rookie.Sasse most recently served as president of Midland University, a small Lutheran college near Omaha, but has also worked in Congress and served in the second Bush administration. Outside the political ring, he wrestled in college at Harvard University and played (American) football at Oxford University, where he did graduate work.ELISE STEFANIK, Member-Elect, New York

Elise Stefanik, 30, is the youngest women to be elected to Congress in history, and the first Republican to win her upstate New York district.She’s a familiar figure in Washington GOP circles: Stefanik served on President George W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council and worked in the office of chief of staff Josh Bolten. In 2012, she helped craft the party’s platform and prepare Rep. Paul Ryan prepare for his vice presidential debates.MIA LOVE, Member-Elect, UtahMia Love, 38, became the first female African-American Republican in Congress Tuesday. The former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, unsuccessfully ran for Utah’s Fourth Congressional District in 2012, but will now represent the district, and a new generation of Republican lawmakers, in Washington.THOM TILLIS, Senator-Elect, North CarolinaThom Tillis, 54, was one of the Republican Party’s prized recruits, and delivered for the GOP by flipping the sixth Democratic seat to give Republicans control of the Senate.In just eight years, he has gone from city councilor in suburban Charlotte to U.S. senator, making waves in Raleigh along the way for leading a conservative shift in North Carolina’s historically moderate state politicsDAVID PERDUE, Senator-Elect, GeorgiaAs a white, Southern, male businessman, Perdue may look like a cookie-cutter Republican senator, but he’ll likely stand out from the crowd. A businessman with experience in overseas manufacturing, Perdue won an intensely negative race in which his Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, ran the Obama-vs.-Romney playbook and hammered him for “outsourcing.”Perdue’s role in the Senate will get most interesting when it comes to immigration. Perdue fought viciously with fellow Republicans in a primary and a runoff over who really supports “amnesty,” but while Perdue plainly says he’s opposed, he’s also signaled a willingness to at least talk about comprehensive reform after border-security measures are passed.Unlike some of his Republican Senate brethren, Perdue won’t be beholden to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- the most powerful business lobbying group in the country -- because they made enemies of each other during a bad meeting early on in the campaign, and the Chamber backed one of his primary opponents. Somewhat ironic for the Senate’s newest businessman.LEE ZELDIN, Member-Elect, New YorkOf all the competitive House races on Election Day, Lee Zeldin’s victory in New York’s 1st congressional district on Long Island stands out above the rest.

“Victory is sweet,” Zeldin, 34, proclaimed during his victory speech Tuesday night, six years after he was handily defeated in his first bid for the House of Representatives.Today, Zeldin is a 10-point winner, holding his opponent to just 45 percent of the vote while carrying 55 percent of the tally himself.

“We can’t change Washington unless we change who we send there to represent us,” Zeldin, who will become the only Jewish House Republican in the 114th Congress, told his supporters. “That’s what you did tonight.”

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Election Results 2014: Here Are the Key Races That Are Still Too Close to Project

Election Results 2014: Here Are the Key Races That Are Still Too Close to Project

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Voters in states across the nation handed Republicans control of the U.S. Senate on Election Day 2014, strengthened their majority control of the House of Representatives and also made a strong showing in gubernatorial races.But several key contests remain undecided as of Wednesday morning, and may not be resolved for some time, even sparking talk of recounts in some states and districts. Here’s a roundup of the races that have truly come down to the wire.Alaska -- SenatePolls closed early Wednesday morning, but the outcome of the Alaska Senate race could be unclear for days because of slow ballot-counting procedures in far-flung communities. First elected to the Senate the same year as Barack Obama won the presidency, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is fighting to secure a second term in the U.S. Senate in a year when three of his Democratic colleagues lost their seats. He’s opposed by Republican Dan Sullivan, the state’s former attorney general and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. As of Wednesday morning, Sullivan leads Begich, 110,203 votes to 102,054.Democrats are banking on their strong ground game in distant areas to help Begich keep his seat, but Republicans hope Sullivan’s efforts to link Begich to Obama will help him win another seat for the GOP. Over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney swooped into the state to help Sullivan shore up support among the conservative base. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Sullivan leads Begich by just over 8,000, votes, but the race has yet to be projected.Virginia -- SenateThe Virginia Senate race between Sen. Mark Warner and Republican candidate Ed Gillespie was expected to be a bright spot in an otherwise bleak night for Democrats. But even one of the most favorable races for the president’s party ended much tighter than anticipated, with a recount all but certain. As of Wednesday morning, Warner leads Gillespie by just 12,150 votes, or roughly half a percentage point of the electorate: 49.1 percent to 48.6.The race was one of several where third-party candidates received single-digit support that could have decided the contest: Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian, received 2.5 percent of the vote. While the race was too close for ABC News to project a winner, Warner declared victory by midnight on Election Night. “It was a hard-fought race. It went a little longer than we thought,” Warner told supporters. “I want to congratulate Ed Gillespie. He ran a hard fought campaign.” Gillespie has not conceded, and can request a recount under Virginia law, as the difference between the two candidates is less than 1 percent of the total votes cast. Brian W. Schoeneman, Fairfax County Electoral Board secretary, said such a count is possible. “We’re in recount territory,” he said.Colorado -- GovernorIncumbent Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper remains locked in a tight race with his Republican challenger, rancher and banker Bob Beauprez. As of Wednesday morning, Hickenlooper leads Beauprez 902,991 to 880,727 votes. Hickenlooper faced criticism from liberals and conservatives for his positions on the death penalty and gun control, though he did enjoy an improved economy under his tenure. Unemployment has fallen to 4.7 percent, down from 9.1 percent when he took office. Beauprez, a two-term U.S. congressman, first ran for governor unsuccessfully in 2006. Beauprez’s stance on key social issues has been in the limelight this campaign cycle. The Republican says he anti-abortion personally, although he did not support a “personhood” referendum that was on the ballot in the state this year.Arizona -- Second Congressional DistrictPossibly the most competitive House race this election between Democratic Rep. Ron Barber and Former Air Force Col. Martha McSally, a Republican, remains in play. As of Wednesday morning, the race is a 50 percent to 50 percent tie, with McSally holding a slim 36-vote lead. This race looked much like the duo’s 2012 faceoff, which was similarly tossup-race tight, when the victor, Barber, was declared 12 days after Election Day. The congressman squeaked by with fewer than 2,500 votes more than McSally to win in that race. The race likely will not be called until a full count of all absentee and early voting ballots are complete, an arduous, meticulous task given how few votes separated the two in 2012.Arizona -- First Congressional DistrictIn neighboring Arizona district one, Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and Arizona’s Republican Speaker of the House Andy Tobin are also still waiting for the final call to be made in their race. Kirkpatrick holds a several thousand vote lead as of Wednesday morning. The congresswoman was identified early on as a top Democratic incumbent Republicans were targeting in the House, and was hit throughout with aggressive ads including one by the National Republican Congressional Committee that suggested her relax view on border security left the state’s border vulnerable to ISIS invasion. In the past few weeks, top pollsters predicted that her prospects for staying in office were dimmer than ever. In 2010, Kirkpatrick was ousted from the seat in the sweeping Tea Party wave that midterm after serving just one term.California -- 52nd Congressional DistrictIt still remains unknown whether scandal-stricken former San Diego City Councilman and openly gay Republican Carl DeMaio was able to beat incumbent Rep. Scott Peters after a House race marked by nasty attack ads, allegations of sexual assault, and a mysterious campaign headquarters break-in. The race was razor thin as of Wednesday morning. DeMaio leads, slightly with 72,431 votes compared with Peters, who won 71,679 votes.

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Marijuana, Minimum Wage and Abortion: How Tuesday’s Key Ballot Measures Did

Marijuana, Minimum Wage and Abortion: How Tuesday’s Key Ballot Measures Did

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Voters across the country opted for change, not just in their representatives but on ballot issues that included legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage -- which passed everywhere it showed up on a ballot -- and tighter controls on gun sales.VICTORIESALASKA – MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION This is the second time in recent years that Alaskans voted on legalizing marijuana. The last attempt in 2004 failed 44 percent to 55 percent. Having legalized marijuana this year, Alaskans can expect Snoop Dogg to perform for them sometime soon. He promised a concert in Alaska if they passed Measure 2.OREGON – MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION Oregon becomes the fourth state with full marijuana legalization, after Colorado and Washington last year, and joining Alaska Tuesday night. This also happens to be the third time Oregonians voted on pot legalization in their state, having rejected the ballot initiatives in 2012 and 2010. One of the reasons this attempt was successful may have been that voters aged 30-44 turned out at a slightly higher rate than those 65 or older. Residents will be able to possess eight ounces of marijuana at home and one ounce in public. But it won’t go into effect overnight: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will have until Jan. 1, 2016 to implement all necessary rules and procedures necessary to regulating marijuana in the state.WASHINGTON, D.C. – MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION Revelers celebrating the passage of Initiative 71 which legalizes pot possession should hold off on smoking in the streets -- this is far from over. Any law passed in Washington, D.C., including by ballot initiative, is subject to a Congressional review period and already one member of Congress, Republican Andy Harris of Maryland, has pledged to work to overturn it. And now that the Senate has turned red, Congress can more easily overturn the D.C. vote. Pot sellers should also probably lay low for a while. I-71 does not regulate the sale of marijuana, which means it’s technically still illegal to sell weed, even if obtaining it isn’t -- another aspect of the measure that the city council might try to fix legislatively.MINIMUM WAGE – Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, South Dakota Minimum wage measures are consistently popular with voters. In 2006, all seven measures on ballots around the country passed, as did a 2013 measure in New Jersey. So it’s no surprise that voters supported raising the minimum wage in all four states where that question was on the ballot this year. A fifth state, Illinois, also passed a minimum wage ballot, but that was only a way for voters to express their personal preference and was non-binding.WASHINGTON – GUN CONTROL A ballot measure that would mandate background checks on gun show buyers and online sales passed handily, while a dueling measure that would have prevented the expansion of background checks failed. Had both gotten a majority "yes" vote, the state supreme court would have likely had to work out the legal implications.DEFEATS

FLORIDA – MEDICAL MARIJUANA Florida needed to clear 60 percent for this constitutional amendment to pass and it came close with 58 percent, but no cigar (or…joint?) Obviously, it was a tougher sell because of that high bar. Also, the anti-medical marijuana camp spent most of the $4.7 million in TV ads that featured in the Sunshine State, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG advertising data in late October. Plus, voters 45 and older far outnumbered younger voters, who were more likely to support broad medical marijuana legalization. There is already a more limited medical marijuana law on the books in Florida. This amendment would have broadened the number of types of legal medical marijuana.COLORADO – PERSONHOOD This is the third time a personhood amendment in Colorado has failed since 2008. But this is the closest it’s ever come to passing with 37 percent of voters choosing “yes.” If it had passed, the implications for abortion in the state weren’t explicitly spelled out but could have been potentially far-reaching: it would have given legal rights to all unborn fetuses, meaning it wouldn’t have banned any type of abortion outright but would have given anti-abortion activists a way to accuse anyone having an abortion of murder.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Wants to Take a Nap

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Wants to Take a Nap

ABC/ LOU ROCCO(NEW YORK) — Presidential prospects? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is more worried about getting some shut-eye.“I haven’t had time to think about [2016]. I’m on two hours sleep, so fair to say, what I’m looking for is a nap,” Christie said in an interview Wednesday with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, lauded the quality of the GOP’s candidates in Tuesday’s races. Republicans seized control of the Senate by gaining at least seven seats, and also made a strong showing in gubernatorial races, winning in Maryland, Arkansas, Illinois and Massachusetts.“The president took a beating last night, and the fact is, you’ve got to sit down then with the folks on the other side and say to them, ‘OK, let’s see what we can agree on together.’ And I think the president needs to lead. I’ve been urging him to do that for years. He needs to lead and work with these folks now,” Christie, 52, said.The lead-up to Election Day gave Christie a chance to travel across the country, increasing his national presence. But he declined to discuss his interest in running for president in 2016.

Other potential Republican candidates include Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

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Five Winners and Losers from the Midterm Elections

Five Winners and Losers from the Midterm Elections

(NEW YORK) — On a night when Republicans took over the Senate and Democrats experienced even more losses than they were originally expecting, some of the longer-term winners and losers were people who didn't have their name on a ballot.Fortuitous fundraising and a focus on presidential prospects helped a few Republicans on Tuesday, while two candidates who tried to game the system -- by physically moving to another state in one race and moving to a new political party for another -- didn't work out for them in the end.

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WINNERSMitch McConnellNot only was Mitch McConnell able to hold onto his job as Senator from Kentucky, but now he gets a promotion as well after Republicans were able to tilt the balance of power in the Senate.Chris ChristieThe tough-talking New Jersey governor wasn't listed on any ballots this year but, because of his role as the head of the Republican Governor's Association, he increased his national presence and has the results to prove it. With some races left to call, at least 21 of the 34 candidates that he stumped for ended up winning.Scott WalkerAfter keeping his post as Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has essentially shown his critics that his constituents are fans of his attempts to break unions. This also secured his spot as a top Republican presidential contender.House RepublicansWhile the Senate was the center of most analysts' attention during the race, Republicans in the House also had a good night because now their majority is even stronger than before.Kay HaganThe incumbent Democratic Senator no longer has a job, but she also lost her job in the most expensive race of the entire election. The cumulative fight between Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis is estimated to have cost more than $1 million.LOSERSPresident ObamaMany are casting these midterms as a referendum on President Obama's policies and a general reflection on Americans' general displeasure with this administration. His low approval ratings and attempts by candidates to distance themselves meant that the president tried to steer clear of the campaign trail for much of the lead up to the election, but he still ended up being the biggest loser on Tuesday night.Harry ReidThe Nevada Senator did not have a race to run himself but -- because of how the other races played out -- ended up losing a title out. Reid will have to hand over the Majority Leader mantle to McConnell.Charlie CristThe fan behind his podium wasn't enough to keep his campaign cool, as Charlie Crist now has the distinct honor of being considered a loser for each political party. He started his political career as a Republican, but decided to rebrand himself an Independent when Marco Rubio beat him in the 2010 Senate race. His time as an Independent didn't work that well either, so he registered as a Democrat in 2012. He lost as a Democrat on Tuesday.Scott BrownThough he never switched parties, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown did try running in another state this time around, but that didn't turn out too well. Brown, who has had a summer home in New Hampshire for years, lost that state's race against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.Martha CoakleyThe former Massachusetts Attorney General isn't going to be able to lose her unfortunate nickname (of "Choakley") after Tuesday's race. She was first appointed to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat after he died, but then was beaten by Scott Brown in a special election. This time around, her former foe had moved up north in hopes of friendlier folk in New Hampshire, but that didn't help her new gubernatorial cause as she still ended up losing this race to Republican Charlie Baker.

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Senate Leadership Elections Next Week

Senate Leadership Elections Next Week

(WASHINGTON) -- Senate leadership elections will be held on Nov. 13, an aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky said.Following Tuesday's elections, next week's vote will allow the parties to choose their leaders, with most expecting that McConnell, the current Senate minority leader, will be chosen for the majority leader position.

Harry Reid has been the party leader for the Democrats since 2005, though he'd need support from his party next week to take the Senate minority leader role starting in January.The full Senate is scheduled to return on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

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Midterm Election 2014 Results: GOP Takes Stronger Grip on the House

Midterm Election 2014 Results: GOP Takes Stronger Grip on the House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans have strengthened their majority control of the House of Representatives. Now, the only question remaining is how big that majority will grow.As of 12:30 a.m. ET, ABC News had projected that Republicans had won 239 seats in the House to 180 for Democrats, which already gives the GOP a stronger hold than they had in the previous Congress, when they had a 34-seat majority. ABC News projected that by the time the night is over, Republicans will have gained between 14 and 18 seats in the House.While majority control of the Senate has been the primary point of discussion through the midterm elections, President Obama could face the largest House majority since the Great Depression if Republicans win a net gain of 13 seats in the lower chamber in Tuesday's elections.With House Republicans adding to their current 34-seat majority, it will possibly diminish some of the power of a conservative wing of lawmakers who have challenged House Speaker John Boehner's leadership on issues like health care, immigration reform and government spending.After voting in West Chester, Ohio, Tuesday morning, Boehner told reporters he feels good about the GOP's chances to not only add to his majority, but also pick up the Senate majority."We've listened to the American people," Boehner said. "We've kept our focus on the economy and jobs nonstop. I think the voters in America today are going to send a very clear message to the president and Democrats in Washington that the American people want us to focus on their priorities, not Washington's priorities."Although some conservative candidates have been reluctant to publicly declare whether they would vote to elect Boehner as House speaker, his hold on the leadership post should grow after spending the past three months campaigning across the country, winning over the favor of many grateful Republicans.Even a modest electoral wave could hand Republicans their largest House majority in decades. Republicans have set a goal of 245, exceeding the 242 seats they held after the Tea Party wave of 2010. Republicans in the 80th Congress held 246 seats during President Harry Truman's administration, but if the GOP can pick up 13 or more seats, President Obama will face the largest class of House Republicans since the 71st Congress was sworn in January 1929, when the GOP had 270 seats, during the Hoover administration.

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Election Results 2014: Republicans Take Control of Governorships in MD, AR, IL, MA

Election Results 2014: Republicans Take Control of Governorships in MD, AR, IL, MA

(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans, having taken control of the Senate and built on their House majority, also made a strong showing in gubernatorial races around the country on Tuesday. GOP candidates in Maryland, Arkansas, Illinois and Massachusetts all took control of governor's seats that were previously held by Democrats. The only upset Democrats were able to pull off was in Pennsylvania.MarylandIn a major upset, Republican candidate for Maryland governor Larry Hogan is now projected to win the state’s highest office, according to ABC News. Hogan, a businessman, will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, representing a party switch for the state. In the last 45 years in the state, Robert Ehrlich Jr. was the only Republican to serve as governor and for only one term from 2003-2007.MassachusettsMassachusetts’s highest office is now projected to switched party hands again. According to ABC News, Republican Charlie Baker will likely defeat Democrat Martha Coakley, and take over for outgoing Deval Patrick, a Democrat. The last serving Republican governor in the state was Mitt Romney, who was elected in 2002. Baker is a Massachusetts native from Needham, just outside Boston. He ran on a centrist platform, highlighting his previous business and management experience as both a former healthcare CEO and former Secretary of Administration and Finance under Governors Weld and Cellucci in the early 1990s. Coakley, a two-term attorney general, also lost a statewide race for Senate in 2010 to Republican Scott Brown. Coakley and Baker came down on opposite sides of several key initiatives on the Massachusetts ballot this year, including a repeal of an incremental gas tax increase, a 5 cent plastic bottle deposit, and expanded requirements for paid sick leave.VermontIn a surprising development, neither incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association, nor Republican challenger Scott Milne in Vermont is projected to reach the 50 percent needed to win the election. The race will now likely be decided by the state legislature, which is currently controlled by the Democrats.Shumlin was expected to win the election handily, coming in with a much stronger donor base and name recognition. According to the latest campaign finance report, Shumlin raised four times as much money as Milne. Polling throughout the election had Shumlin consistently ahead by a wide margin -- the latest poll by CBS/NYT/YouGov showed Shumlin with a 12-point lead. The day that Milne filed his candidacy for the governorship of the Green Mountain State, he put his chances of winning the election at 1 percent. Milne has never held elected office and is the president of his family-owned business, Milne Travel. Shumlin is seeking his third two-year term, as there is no term limit in the state.MaineDespite heavy storms and power outages across the state Tuesday, Mainers have voted and ABC News is projecting that the blunt and sometimes inflammatory Republican Gov. Paul LePage will win a second term. LePage faced a tough race with two challengers: Democratic candidate Mike Michaud and Independent Eliot Cutler. Culter was polling around 10 percent heading into Election Day and may have siphoned off enough votes from Michaud to help LePage secure a victory. In 2010, LePage won with only 38 percent of the vote. He faced tough criticism during the majority of his first term after making some large tax cuts.FloridaBased on ABC's analysis of the vote so far, Republican Gov. Rick Scott is projected to fend off a tough challenge from Democratic candidate Charlie Crist. In a brutal and expensive campaign that will likely be remembered for how unpopular both candidates emerged from it, Scott defeated his Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat opponent Crist, ABC News projects.Crist attempted to seize on Scott’s sagging poll numbers in the state, while Scott looked to paint Crist as a candidate who would take any position just to get a vote. One of the more memorable exchanges between the two came when Scott refused to debate for nearly 10 minutes over a fan that was set up below Crist’s podium. Carlos Lopez-Cantera will stay on as Scott’s lieutenant Governor.IllinoisABC News can project that Republican Bruce Rauner has defeated Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, in a campaign that doubled fundraising records in President Barack Obama’s home state. Rauner threw millions of his own fortune into the race, running as a socially moderate anti-corruption businessman.GeorgiaGeorgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is now projected to secure a second term and defeat Democratic challenger Jason Carter, in a race that was neck-and-neck heading into Election Day. Deal suffered from low approval ratings for most of his first term after facing ethical investigations related to campaign finance rules. Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter and a former state senator, was able to run a successful campaign and kept the race exciting until the end. He pitched himself as a defender of the middle class.WisconsinIn one of the most closely watched races of the midterm election, Wisconsin incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker defeated Democratic challenger Mary Burke, ABC News reports.Walker, a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, wins his third gubernatorial election in four years -- becoming the first governor to achieve the feat in U.S. history.On Oct. 28 in Milwaukee, President Obama made a rare campaign appearance with Burke, a former business executive and commerce secretary under former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Her loss is a major disappointment for state and national Democrats, who were hoping to take Walker out of the 2016 presidential conversation before it began.TexasThe gubernatorial race in Texas has also made national headlines. The race to replace Republican Gov. Rick Perry was thrust into the national spotlight after Democrat Wendy Davis emerged as a star after her 11-hour filibuster to block an anti-abortion bill last summer. However, ABC News projects that the highest office in the Lone Star state will stay in Republican hands with Greg Abbott.From the beginning, Davis faced a long uphill climb. The Lone Star state hasn't elected a Democratic governor since 1990, and Abbott made a name for himself among conservatives after battling to the Supreme Court to keep the Ten Commandments on display on the grounds of the State Capitol complex in Austin.PennsylvaniaDemocrats have already enjoyed one major upset in Pennsylvania. Democrat Tom Wolf is projected to beat incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in an historic election. In 40 years, since the state started permitting two gubernatorial terms, no sitting governor seeking re-election had been defeated before Tuesday night.Corbett was understood to be one of the most vulnerable governors this campaign season. He spent most of his term facing strong opposition to his dramatic cuts in the state's education budget and faced a gap in charisma and likeability compared to Wolf.ArkansasRepublicans have also netted one party switch. Republican Asa Hutchinson is projected to beat Democratic candidate Mike Ross, and take over from outgoing Democrat Mike Beebe in Arkansas.ABC News will be keeping track of all of the key gubernatorial races and more throughout the evening. Check back for updates.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott Projected to Win Re-Election

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Projected to Win Re-Election

(L)(C) OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR (R) WYLLIE FOR GOVERNOR(WASHINGTON) -- Based on ABC News' analysis of the vote so far, Republican Gov. Rick Scott is projected to successfully fend off his tough challenge from Democratic candidate Charlie Crist.

In a brutal and expensive campaign that will likely be remembered for how unpopular both candidates emerged from it, Scott defeated his Republican-turned-independent-turned-liberal opponent Crist, ABC New projects. Crist attempted to seize on Scott’s sagging poll numbers in the state, while Scott looked to paint Crist as a candidate who would take any position just to get a vote.

One of the more memorable exchanges between the two came when Scott refused to debate for nearly 10 minutes over a fan that was set up below Crist’s podium.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera will stay on as Scott’s lieutenant governor. 

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