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US SENATE RACES TO WATCH

November 6, 2018

INDIANA

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is trying to fend off Republican businessman Mike Braun in a state that Trump won by 19 percentage points. Donnelly is Indiana’s lone Democrat elected statewide and has sought to align himself with Trump on the hot-button issue of expanding the border wall with Mexico. He has portrayed himself as a moderate who works with both parties to pass legislation. “I go against my party all the time,” he said recently.

Braun has sought to question Donnelly’s independence and describes him as a career politician. He notes that Donnelly supported Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency and sided with the vast majority of Democratic senators in voting against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Polls close at 7 p.m. EST

WEST VIRGINIA

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is a former governor in search of a second full Senate term representing a state that supported Trump by a whopping 42 percentage points in 2016. His opponent is Patrick Morrisey, a two-term state attorney general and staunch Trump supporter.

Manchin has made maintaining health care protections for pre-existing conditions a major focus of his campaign and has hit Morrisey for joining a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. He was the only Democrat to have voted for Kavanaugh. He also voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Morrisey calls Manchin a liberal who only acts bipartisan around Election Day.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST

FLORIDA

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is seeking a fourth term in the race against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott has spent millions of dollars out of his own personal fortune to help fund his campaign. He has said that he would work to cut taxes and regulation if sent to Washington.

The two have clashed sharply on gun violence, a big issue in Florida following the February shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nelson has stressed that he favors a ban on military-style assault weapons and implementing a comprehensive system of background checks. Scott signed legislation in Florida that requires anyone wanting to buy a gun to be 21 years old, but the bill didn’t include a ban on assault weapons.

The two have also differed on health care, with Nelson calling for strengthening the Affordable Care Act, but Scott calling the law deeply flawed and costly.

Polls close at 8 p.m. EST

MISSOURI

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is running for a third term against state Attorney General Josh Hawley. Trump won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points, and the state has shifted from a battleground to strongly Republican in recently elections.

McCaskill is touting herself as a moderate: “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats. She works right in the middle and finds compromise,” says one of her recent radio ads.

Hawley has tried to cast McCaskill as a “party-line liberal.”

The candidates have also tangled over Hawley joining a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican attorneys general to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Trump has traveled several times to Missouri to campaign for Hawley, repeatedly describing the state’s 38-year-old attorney general as a “star.”

Polls close at 8 p.m. EST

TENNESSEE

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn is running against former two-term Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in a state Trump won by 26 percentage points.

Blackburn would be the state’s first female senator if elected. She has served eight terms in the House and is viewed as one of the more conservative members of that chamber.

Bredesen is trying to brandish his credentials as a centrist. He has said he will support or oppose Trump based on his specific ideas and how they affect Tennessee.

The two are running to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican who has frequently clashed with Trump.

Polls close at 8 p.m. EST

ARIZONA

Democrats have high hopes for flipping this seat in Arizona, where Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is running against Republican Rep. Martha McSally.

They are running for the seat left open when Sen. Jeff Flake, a sharp critic of Trump, opted to retire, acknowledging that he could not win a GOP primary in the current political climate.

McSally is a former Air Force fighter pilot who represents a moderate district that is based in Tucson. Sinema represents a district based in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe and is a former Green Party activist who transformed herself into a centrist Democrat. She has one of the most conservative voting records among Democrats in Congress and presents herself as a nonpartisan problem-solver.

Polls close at 9 p.m. EST

NORTH DAKOTA

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer in a state Trump won by 36 percentage points.

Heitkamp has sought to draw differences with Cramer on health care and trade. She says she is working to improve the Affordable Care Act while he’s been working to eliminate it. Cramer has argued that President Donald Trump’s approach on trade must be given time to work.

Heitkamp’s campaign stumbled when it identified victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape in an ad. Heitkamp apologized after she learned that several of the women named in the newspaper ad either hadn’t authorized being named or are not survivors of abuse.

Polls close at 9 p.m. EST

TEXAS

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is seeking a second term against Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a rising star in the Democratic Party who has shattered Senate campaign fundraising records despite shunning donations from outside political groups.

O’Rourke is trying to become Texas’ first Democrat to win statewide office since 1994, but faces long odds given the advantage that GOP candidates have in statewide elections.

Cruz has made nice with Trump despite the ugly words they exchanged during the presidential campaign in 2016. Trump held a campaign rally for Cruz in Houston, calling the candidate “Beautiful Ted.”

Polls close at 9 p.m. EST

NEVADA

Republican Sen. Dean Heller is seeking a second full term against Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen in the one true battleground state that features a Republican incumbent.

Heller and Trump have embraced each other after a rocky start, with both highlighting their desire to get more of the president’s judicial nominees confirmed, a top priority for many social conservatives. Heller is the only Republican running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

Rosen is a first-term congresswoman who could benefit from a wave of Democratic and female activism fueled by opposition to Trump.

Polls close at 10 p.m. EST

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