Partisan control of the U.S. Senate will be determined in January runoff races

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Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff apparently has forced a Jan. 5 runoff in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia

Both Georgia Senate races appear headed to a Jan. 5 runoff on which will hinge partisan control of the chamber, a key determinant in the future of many public finance priorities.

The results of Tuesday’s election left Republicans and Democrats each expected to have at least 48 seats in the next Congress, according to the Associated Press.

Democratic control of the Senate is considered crucial to many of the public finance sector’s priorities, although some muni groups are optimistic about 2021 with either party having a Senate majority.

The AP indicated that Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was favored to win re-election with 63.3% of the ballots counted. The race remained too early to call because only 53% of the ballots were counted as of Friday afternoon.

The AP also did not call a winner as of Friday afternoon in the North Carolina Senate race. Republican Sen. Thom Tillis was almost 97,000 votes ahead in the ballots with 97% of the votes counted in a hard fought race against Democrat Cal Cummingham with more than 5.4 million votes counted.

Victories by Sullivan and Tillis would give Republicans 50 seats in the next Congress, but Democrats could match that number if they win the two Georgia runoff races.

If the Senate ends up with a 50-50 partisan divided, whoever is vice president would hold the tie-breaking vote.

Democrats could gain the majority in that case with former Vice President Joe Biden winning the presidency and Sen. Kamala Harris of California becoming vice president.

A second Georgia runoff became likely Friday when continued counting from Tuesday’s election showed Sen. David Perdue’s total votes falling below the 50% mark that’s needed in that state to be officially declared the winner.

Perdue’s total fell to 49.8% with an estimated 98.1% of the votes counted in his race against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who was at 47.8%. Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel had 2.3%.

The final vote count in Georgia has been trending strongly in favor of Democrats because these ballots were mailed in. Those mail-in ballots also have favored former Vice President Joe Biden, who took the lead in Georgia’s vote over President Trump.

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