With GOP win in Alaska, control of Senate pushes to January

WASHINGTON (AP) — Control of the Senate won’t be decided until the new year after Republicans won a seat in Alaska on Wednesday. Neither party can lock the majority until January runoffs in Georgia.

Incumbent Alaska GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan defeated Al Gross, an independent running as a Democrat.

With Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Republicans are still short of the 51 seats they need for majority control. They have a 49-48 hold on the Senate with the Alaska win, but two races in Georgia are heading to a Jan. 5 runoff.

The race in North Carolina remains too early to call. There, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham has conceded to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis.

With Biden, the path to keeping Senate control is more difficult for Republicans. The vice president of the party in power, which on Jan. 20 will be Kamala Harris, is the tie-breaker. That means if Republicans only have 50 seats, Democrats control the Senate. Republicans would need 51 senators to overcome that.

The Georgia runoff elections, set for Jan. 5, are swiftly becoming a showdown over control of the chamber. The state is closely divided, with Democrats making gains on Republicans, fueled by a surge of new voters. But no Democrat has been elected senator in some 20 years.

GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Rafael Warnock, a Black pastor from the church where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached. And Republican Sen. David Perdue, a top Trump ally, will face Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.