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Midterm Election Night: Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum Defeated, Stacey Abrams Does Not Concede

UPDATED: After the historic midterm elections, Democrats won back Congress in the first vote of the Trump era, while Republicans maintained hold on the Senate. Below are updates from Ted Johnson in Washington, and Cynthia Littleton and Brian Steinberg, were at the network news divisions in New York.

Democrats get a Senate pickup: Jacky Rosen defeated Dean Heller in Nevada, giving Democrats their only pickup in the Senate of the midterms, although a race in Arizona is too close to call and a race in Mississippi will go to a runoff.

Heller was the most vulnerable of all GOP incumbents in the Senate, and polls showed the race tightening recently.

Jimmy Kimmel, who campaigned with Rosen last week, tweeted out congratulations.

Antonio Sabato trails Julia Brownley: Actor Antonio Sabato Jr. trailed Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) in a Ventura County seat. Brownley was always favored in this seat, and Trump did not weigh in on the race on Twitter.

Abrams not conceding: Stacey Abrams, trailing Brian Kemp in the race for governor of Georgia, said that she was waiting for absentee and provisional votes to come in. Kemp has 51% of the vote, but he will be forced into a runoff if he falls below 50%.

“Tonight we have closed the gap between yesterday and tomorrow, but we have a few miles to go,” Abrams said.

The race drew national attention and has been especially toxic, as Abrams accused Kemp, the Georgia secretary of state, of trying to suppress the vote.

He also tweeted out a warning about Abrams, calling her “too extreme,” along with a link to a Breitbart.com article showing members of the New Black Panther Party posing with an Abrams sign. Two days before the election, his office said that state Democrats were under investigation for attempting to hack the voter registration system, although few details were provided. Abrams said that the announcement was an abuse of power.

“This election has tested our faith,” Abrams told her supporters.

Kemp told those gathered at his election night party, “We are waiting on the final results, but I am confident that victory is near.”

Sorry for the f-bomb’: MSNBC News’ Brian Williams apologized after the network aired Beto O’Rourke’s concession speech, when O’Rourke thanked his supporters and said, “I’m so f—ing proud of you guys.”

Dianne Feinstein wins another term: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defeated another Democrat, Kevin de Leon, for another term in the Senate. Feinstein, 85, was first elected in 1992, and survived a challenge from the left. De Leon said that it was time for new leadership, but his campaign trailed in the polls and fundraising.

Feinstein has been the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but will not be chair as Republicans retained the majority.

More from Fox News: “We’ve reached the punchy part of the program,” Bret Baier tells viewers around 11:20 p.m. ET.

Juan Williams and Brit Hume have a lively exchange about what the Republican Senate wins mean for President Donald Trump and for the Republican Party.

“It’ll be a much Trump-ier Senate,” Hume declares, noting that winners tended to be more in line with the president’s agenda than those Republicans who are leaving the chamber a la Bob Corker and Jeff Flake.

“It’s going to be two years of absolute fireworks,” Williams says with control of the House and Senate now split between the parties. Their voices rise enough to get the attention of their fellow anchors and Rove.

As Fox News calls Florida’s Senate race for Republican Rick Scott, there’s not much suspense left in the much hyped results. It may not have been a blue wave, but it was a “blue night,” Hume observes.

Rove zeroes in on the impact — or lack thereof — of Democratic losses in races where former president Barack Obama campaigned hard.

“The rhetoric has been harsh,” Rove said of Democratic warnings about the importance of the midterm elections.

Outside the studio, additional anchors and commentators are waiting to go on, but the decision is made to stick with the player on the field. During a commercial break Baier takes his first break in hours. As he bolts out of the studio, he jokes about “never coming back.”

Split decision: CBS News’ John Dickerson said earlier in the evening, “So we’re going to talk about the president and whether this is a referendum on him all night and we should but, at the end of the night, we might get a split decision, one in the House, one in the Senate.” He was right. Republicans also did better in winning governorships than was expected.

Norah O’Donnell talked about the record number of women expected to be elected to Congress. “What we already know from exit polls, what voters have told us, eight in 10 voters across the country said it is important to elect more women.”

McCaskill loses Missouri Senate seat: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) lost her seat to Josh Hawley, the Republican attorney general, in another pickup for Republicans. Her loss wasn’t a huge surprise, as she was in a state that Trump won by a wide margin in 2016 and where he finished his midterm campaigning with a rousing rally on Monday night.

She got a big fundraising boost from Los Angeles donors in May, when President Barack Obama headlined an event for her at the home of NBCUniversal’s Jeff Shell.

Democratic emerging ‘stars’ are losing: Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum were the focus of much of the energy and attention of entertainment industry activists, and Beto O’Rourke drew heavily from support from entertainment industry figures. All are losing or have lost their races.

It was by no means a central focus, but the GOP tried to turn Democrats’ showbiz support against them. Cruz, for instance, didn’t miss many opportunities to attack O’Rourke for raising money from “liberal” Hollywood. After Oprah Winfrey campaigned for Abrams, Vice President Mike Pence attacked her for drawing on celebrity backers. “This ain’t Hollywood,” he said.

All of the candidates ran as progressives in red or purple states — ones that Trump won in 2016.

Bruce Cohen, one of the organizers of the showbiz group Unite the Right, which produced multiple videos and campaigned in 10 key states, texted, “You cannot overstate how hugely important it is that we will take back the House, and so many great candidates — and exceptional women — won. Beto ran an extraordinary race and needless to say, has a huge national career ahead of him.”

Andy Spahn of Gonring Spahn & Associates, which represents clients such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, said that “the priority tonight was to win back the House and Democrats have done that. Secondly, we needed to pick up Governor seats and we did that. We start again tomorrow, with a focus on capturing the White House and ending the divisive, hate-filled politics of Donald Trump.” His firm organized multiple fundraising events for House and Senate candidates.

Fox News figures trumpet GOP wins: The conversation in the Fox News studio gets animated after Fox calls the Texas senate race for Cruz and calls the Senate remaining in GOP control. Chris Wallace urges the anchors to “tap the breaks” on the “hosannas” that the Senate victories are big wins for President Trump until all the numbers are in. “We’re not driving, we’re just cruising,” Baier responded.

A few minutes later Wallace is sparring with Laura Ingraham who declares of the GOP: “The party is coming home to Trump. The party is unified,” she says. The focus turns to how the midterms will impact the next presidential race. The Democrats are becoming the liberal wing exemplified by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, from New York, Ingraham asserts. “That’s going to be a hard sell in 2020.” — Cynthia Littleton.

The Scene at NBC News: Studio 1A at NBC is best known as the control center for the network’s venerable “Today” Show. Tonight it’s packed with top news brass: NBC News chairman Andy Lack, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim,NBC News and MSNBC senior VP of specials Rashida Jones and “Today” executive producer Libby Leist.

NBC again set up 30 Rock as “Democracy Plaza,” where the public can gather to watch election results.— Brian Steinberg.

Ted Cruz’s Victory: A number of news networks called the Texas Senate race for Ted Cruz, dashing hopes that Beto O’Rourke would score an upset. O’Rourke’s campaign captivated progressives, along with a number of entertainment figures.

Republicans also will retain control of the Senate, after Democrats were defeated in North Dakota and Indiana.

O’Rourke drew such celebrity supporters as Willie Nelson, who performed for him at an Austin concert in September that drew an estimated 55,000 people.

The Scene at ABC News: Producers energetically huddled around dozens of screens in a crowded control room to coordinate the  news unit’s first hour of primetjme coverage. The network’s set – two tiered – is massive, and ABC News President James Goldston is standing among the front row of top personnel on a frenzied night. — Brian Steinberg.

Mitt Romney’s Return: Mitt Romney was elected to the Senate in Utah. It’s no surprise, but a lot of attention will be paid to the extent to which Romney is an independent voice willing to criticize President Trump. As Trump was seeking the Republican nomination in 2016, Romney gave a speech to try to stop him, calling him “a con man, a fake.” Once Trump took office, he has been less critical and even interviewed to he Trump’s Secretary of State.

Polis Elected First Openly Gay Governor: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) was elected governor of Colorado, succeeding Democrat John Hickenlooper. Polis will be the first openly gay person elected governor.

More on the Scene at Fox News: “What do you want to talk about?” Bret Baier asks Karl Rove during a commercial break as he gets settled into his chair.

“I don’t know, what do you want to talk about?”

The decision is quickly made that the Florida and Texas senate races remain hot topics. Laura Ingraham asks Rove why returns from Michigan are taking so long. “Late-count state,” Rove replied, knowingly.

Just before 9:30 there’s a quick anchor shuffle to give Ingraham, Dana Perino, Juan Williams and Guy Benson a break. Rove is joined by Steve Hilton, Molly Hemingway and others as the crunch time hits.

Rove predicts Ted Cruz will pull it out in the end in his Senate reelection race against progressive darling Beto O’Rourke. He calls him “Robert Francis O’Rourke.” When teased by the others Rove notes that “how he appears on the ballot.” — Cynthia Littleton.

Mike Braun defeats Joe Donnelly: Republicans gained a Senate seat after Mike Braun defeated Joe Donnelly, dimming Democrats’ hopes of taking control of the chamber. Former President Barack Obama campaigned for Donnelly, but President Trump made four trips to the state, which he won overwhelmingly in 2016.

Fox News’ calls the House for Democrats: At 9:33, Bret Baier stops a discussion to call the Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives, based on the calculations of the Fox News decision desk. There were no cheers from the crowd outside. Fox News analyst Molly Hemingway predicts it will lead to “investigation-palooza” in DC.

Brit Hume adds that those investigations will generate “adoring coverage” by mainstream media. — Cynthia Littleton.

More on the Scene at Fox News: It’s the crucial 9 p.m. hour and here comes Karl Rove to join the Fox News analysis panel. The studio is cleared of observers so the steadicam operator can pull off a big tracking shot zooming in to the studio.

Brit Hume and Chris Wallace took a brief break to make room for Maria Bartiromo. Bartiromo, the Fox Business anchor, couldn’t resist reminding people that she called Trump’s victory as a boon to the economy, and she warned viewers that Democratic control of the House would curb economic growth, amp up regulations on business and lead to “investigation after investigation after investigation.”

At 9:06, after calling a few close races, Bret Baier says that the early returns are “skewing more Republican” than some of their earlier projections. Every time a race is called for a Republican, cheers erupt from the crowd outside the studio.

Ingraham is still focused on Florida. She’s betting on Rick Scott to win the Senate race over Bill Nelson and is ready declare a win for Scott there as a win for Donald Trump. “Gillum is a charismatic guy but he’s too far left for Florida,” she says. — Cynthia Littleton.

Blackburn wins: Rep. Marcia Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has been declared the winner of an open Senate seat in Tennessee over Phil Bredesen, the state’s former governor. This was a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats, and they were someone optimistic because of Bredesen’s popularity in the state. Taylor Swift made her first foray into politics by endorsing Bredesen and even seemed to generate an uptick in voter registration. Blackburn has close ties to the entertainment business, particularly the music industry, and was the chair of a subcommittee on communications and technology.

ABC News Scene: Producers energetically huddled around dozens of screens in a crowded control room to coordinate the Disney news unit’s first hour of primetjme coverage. The network’s set – two tiered – is massive, and ABC News President James Goldston is standing among the front row of top personnel on a frenzied night. — Brian Steinberg.

Kim Davis Defeated: Kim Davis was the clerk in a Kentucky county who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a Supreme Court, and she was defeated in her bid for reelection. She was defeated by her Democratic challenger, Elwood Caudill. Davis ended up serving jail time for refusing to issue the licenses and became somewhat of a celebrity on the right.

House Control: A host of tight races signal what may be a much longer evening for Democrats who hoped to flip enough seats early in the evening to put them within reach of House control. In a Virginia House seat, Denver Riggleman, a former National Security Agency contractor, defeated Leslie Cockburn. Cockburn is a filmmaker and journalist and the mother of actress Olivia Wilde.

One of the key races being watched is the Senate race between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz. O’Rourke is leading, which is giving Democrats some hope, but it’s still early. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was reelected in New Jersey, after some polls showed him vulnerable after surviving a corruption trial.

“It’s not going to be a wave election,” James Carville says on MSNBC.

Fox News Scene: It’s a busy night outside Fox News headquarters on Sixth Avenue in New York, where a crowd gathered to watch election returns on giant screen monitors erected in the plaza of the News Corp. building.

Fox News decided to capitalize on the crowds that typically gather around big news events by erecting an interactive installation to tout its Fox Nation streaming service that launches Nov. 27. About 2,000 people streamed through the tents that offered access to Fox News personalities, book signings and copious swag — including a custom t-shirt press. Fox News viewers from around the country were invited to come for the installation. One woman waiting in line for her chance to walk through before it closed at 8 p.m. held a printed sign that declared “Nobel 4 Trump.”

Security is tight around the outside of the building, between Fox’s private security and the NYPD officers complete with dogs in tow. The cheering sounds of the crowd bled through the ground level studio where Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, and Martha MacCallum are calling the early returns. During commercial breaks, MacCallum walks up the staircase in the split level studio to confer with Bill Hemmer, who is manning the national map.

Also on camera on the ground floor studio are Laura Ingraham, Juan Williams, Dana Perino, and Guy Benson.

Ingraham is making her presence felt in her first big election night since becoming a Fox News star. She urged producers to put up a shot of the rainbow coming out of the Capitol dome that made the social media rounds earlier in the day. “It’s beautiful,” she said. She also called out the tightening numbers in the Florida governor’s race and urged producers to focus on that developing situation. — Cynthia Littleton

Fox News Midterms
CREDIT: Cynthia Littleton/Variety
Fox News Midterms
CREDIT: Cynthia Littleton/Variety

The First Democratic Flip: Jennifer Wexton, an attorney, defeated Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in a suburban Virginia district. Her victory is not a surprise: Comstock, who once lobbied on behalf of the MPAA, was viewed as one of the most vulnerable of all House Republican incumbents. Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the district  in 2016.

The First Calls: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) were the first to senators to be declared winners tonight by the major networks. Both victories had been expected.

What’s still unclear is whether there is anything approaching a “blue wave” forming as a rebuke to Trump.

First Polls Close: The first polls have closed in Indiana and Kentucky in this year’s midterms, as a host of anecdotal and some actual data signaled a significant turnout for a non-presidential election.

President Donald Trump all but characterized the results as a referendum on his presidency, having trekked the country to hold rally after rally, where he was front and center and the actual candidates on the ballot took second billing. He spent the day at the White House, with nothing on his public schedule, and planned to watch results with friends and family.

Social media was blanketed with messages urging people to vote, but early coverage was cautious.

After CNN unveiled the results of the first exit polling of the evening, showing poor numbers for Trump, Anderson Cooper added, “There is a lot we do not know.”

Long lines were reported at polls across the country, but there also were problems. In Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams is facing Republican Brian Kemp in the race for governor, there were reports of malfunctioning machines and voters forced to wait several hours to cast their ballots.

Kemp, who as Georgia’s secretary of state is in charge of the elections, also had problems when he went to vote.

In New York, city councilman Corey Johnson slammed the Board of Elections for being unprepared for the onslaught.

“Voting should not be this difficult,” he wrote.

Showbiz Democrats were approaching the night with a degree of anxiety. Few have plans for election night victory parties, having experienced Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss in 2016, when her supporters were gathered for a mega-celebration at the Jacob Javits Center in New York.

Producer Bruce Cohen, who is among a group of industry figures who formed the group We Stand United to campaign for candidates in 10 key states, said he was spending the evening watching the results with his husband.

“After two years ago, I am taking nothing for granted — just praying (literally) that hope and good and love will prevail over fear and darkness and hate,” he said.

As she promised, Alyssa Milano was visiting a group of districts in California, and driving voters to the polls. In the 50th congressional district, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is challenged by Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.

As she drove, Milano asked the district’s voters riding in her car about key issues, like healthcare and gun control. “Are you nervous about today?” Milano asked as she drove. The answer: Yes, very much so.

A combination of anecdotal and some actual data is convincing many pundits that the midterms will see record turnout.

Democrats are favored to win the House, where they need to pick up 23 seats, but they have an uphill battle to take the Senate. Although the breakdown is 51-49, Democrats are defending many more seats, including 10 in states that Trump won in 2016. Here’s our story on the races that have drawn the most interest from the entertainment industry, and what could change for the industry if Democrats win a majority in either chamber.

James Woods, a supporter of Trump, tweeted out a Washington Examiner article that predicted that Democrats would move to raise taxes. “They can’t wait to get their greasy hands into your pockets. #DemocratTaxHikes,” he wrote.

The midterms have seen a host of celebrities endorse candidates across the country, and Beyonce offered one on Tuesday afternoon, just hours before polls are set to close in Texas. In an Instagram post, she revealed that she is for Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat seeking to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

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