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  • Rikki Lambert

Red ripple sets stage for 2024 US presidential election

Florida's Marco Rubio (R) celebrates his senate re-election

It fell short of the 'red wave' predicted by Republican fans but the ripple of Republican wins in US mid-term elections has given Florida governor Ron De Santis and other presidential aspirants a platform to make their case for 2024.

Former US president Donald Trump launched a pre-emptive strike on De Santis just prior to Tuesday's elections, calling him 'Ron De Sanctimonious' - but it didn't seem to dent the 44 year old winning a second term. In fact, the scale of De Santis' popularity in Florida augurs well for a potential presidential tilt.

However, the night looked sour by the early morning hours US time with the Republicans likely to fall a seat short of a Senate majority.

Georgia's swing state race was close midway through the count with Republican challenger Herschel Walker ahead of incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock, the former seemingly unhurt by an ex-girlfriend's claims he paid for an abortion 13 years ago. Republican supporters voiced agony that the Libertarian Party candidate, Oliver, garnered over 80,000 votes that would likely have determined the race in Walker's favour.

With a House majority all but guaranteed for the Republicans, their 47 seats called against the requisite 50 for a Senate left them certain to claim Alaska, the 48th, likely to hold Wisconsin, the 49th, but hamstrung by the Libertarian vote in getting enough in a first-past-the-post system to claim Georgia as the crucial 50th. As at 1:53am local time, Walker trailed Warnock by almost 14,000 votes with 96 per cent counted.

Swing state Wisconsin was tight at times between Republican Ron Johnson seeking a third term against Democrat challenger Mandela Barnes. As at 1:53am Johnson was ahead by 40,000 votes out of 2.6 million counted.

Alaskan Trump backed Republican Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka looks likely to have toppled Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski. State Republican leaders had censured Murkowksi for supporting a vote to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial.

Democrat favourite and 2020 presidential aspirant Beto O'Rourke failed in his challenge to incumbent Greg Abbott in Texas.

The race to replace Republican senator Rob Portman in Ohio went to his successor JD Vance, leading Democrat Tim Ryan.

The election also featured a huge number of 'ballot measures', including legalising marijuana - passed in Democrat stronghold Maryland but rejected in North and South Dakota, Missouri and Arkansas, the latter state to now be governed by former Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Kentucky's motion to change its state constitution to block a constitutional right to abortion failed despite the US Supreme Court rejection of the Roe v Wade doctrine. Michigan's motion to guarantee access to abortion passed as will California's. Iowa voted to establish a state constitutional right to 'keep and bear arms'.

Republican senator Tim Scott is potentially poised for a 2024 presidential bid after being re-elected in South Carolina. Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, has stated his new term will be his last. Democrat Wes Moore became governor of blue stronghold Maryland, the third black governor in US history. Maura Healey became the first openly lesbian US governor, the Democrat winning Massachusetts. Republican 40-year-old Katie Britt became her Alabama's first female senator.

Former Republican presidential aspirant Marco Rubio was re-elected for another six-year term in the Florida senate race.

The closely watched Senate race between John Fetterman for the Democrats and former TV star Mehmet 'Doctor' Oz for the Republicans was too close to call early in the race but later in the night Fetterman claimed victory, retaining the seat previously held by Democrat Pat Toomey.

The stage is set for would-be Republican presidential nominees to make their case for 2024, but the stage could be unstable for incumbent Democrat president Joe Biden. The swing will be taken as a repudiation of the Democrat brand he may now be one seat short of being rendered a 'lame duck' president without control of either house of Congress. His good friend Barack Obama was a lame duck in the last quarter of his presidency - Biden is almost there before half-time. The majority of two-term presidents ended their terms without control of the Congress, but Bill Clinton was the last Democrat president to be in Biden's situation so early. Clinton served his entire second term a lame duck ... it will be up to the Democratic Party whether it can endure a comparatively older Joe Biden running again in 2024.


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