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Jessica Taylor

For nearly a decade, Nancy Pelosi was the GOP's not-so-secret weapon.

Tying a congressional candidate to the Democratic leader and raising the specter of another would-be speakership was a Republican's silver bullet for much of the past decade.

The final Senate race of 2018 was expected to be a sleepy affair — a formality, really, with a special election runoff in deep red Mississippi. Instead, the race has been upended in the final days thanks to multiple stumbles by the GOP nominee that have dredged up the state's history of racial violence.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET

Mississippi was set for a fairly mundane midterm election runoff next week — deciding who would win the final undecided U.S. Senate seat in a state that easily elects Republicans, until a senator greeted a cattle rancher.

Democrat Stacey Abrams isn't backing down from her fight against what she calls voter suppression tactics and election mismanagement after losing the Georgia governor's race. In fact, Abrams said she experienced the problems in her state firsthand — after nearly being denied a ballot during early voting.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has defeated Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the Florida Senate race after a protracted and contentious recount.

Following both a machine and hand recount — mandated by law given the very tight margin of less than 0.25 percentage points — Scott continued to lead Nelson by more than 10,000 votes out of more than eight million votes cast.

"I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service," said Scott in a statement issued by his campaign.

Andrew Gillum ended his bid to become the first African-American governor of Florida on Saturday, conceding the race to his Republican rival, former Rep. Ron DeSantis.

"R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida," Gillum said in a Facebook video with his wife at his side. "This has been the journey of our lives."

Updated at 8:33 p.m. ET

Republican Brian Kemp will be the next governor of Georgia, with Democrat Stacey Abrams admitting Friday afternoon that there was no path to victory, following a bitter 10-day battle since Election Day.

Updated at 8:16 p.m. ET

As recounts are underway in Florida, a judge issued a warning Monday to "ramp down the rhetoric" as top Republicans — including President Trump — are casting doubt on the process.

The next Congress is going to be missing some familiar faces. Thanks to a mix of retirements and defeats on Tuesday, some high-profile lawmakers will soon be exiting Capitol Hill.

Some were longtime Democratic targets in the Senate that the GOP finally vanquished. Others were vocal Republican critics of President Trump who chose not to run for re-election. Others simply thought it was time to hang it up — including the outgoing speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Here are 10 of the most notable politicians making their exit from Washington:

President Trump claimed some personal victories in the 2018 midterm results, and as he ticked them off at a news conference on Wednesday he might as well have been walking through the Electoral College map for 2020.

There are dozens of competitive races across the country that will determine control of the House, Senate and governors' seats. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take back the House, Democrats need a net gain of two seats to flip the Senate and Democrats are expected to slice into Republicans' 33-16 advantage in governors' seats.

Democrats appear confident they'll take back the House majority next Tuesday — a fact top Republican strategists all but concede privately less than a week before Election Day.

"Up until today I would have said if the election was held today we would win. Now I'm saying we will win," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday night on CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

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The Florida and Georgia races for governor — two of the most closely watched in the country — have been roiled in the past 24 hours by more scrutiny over alleged voter suppression, racist ads and newly ignited controversies over the Confederate flag and allegations of corruption involving the hit musical Hamilton.

The battle for the Senate is being fought on Republican-friendly turf, and with three weeks until Election Day the GOP is increasingly optimistic that the chamber will remain in the party's grasp.

Fears that a fiery Democratic opposition could turn the map upside down have abated some, now that the GOP base is more tuned in following the confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Updated at 8:47 p.m. ET

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was defiant and visibly angry as he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon, rebutting earlier emotional testimony from the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

Updated at 9:24 p.m. ET

During a rare press conference Wednesday, President Trump sent mixed messages about the fate of his embattled Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

As the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh neared, both parties had seen potential political benefits for them in the upcoming midterm elections.

For Republicans, it was a chance to energize the base by putting another conservative justice on the court, potentially reshaping it for a generation.

For Democrats, the specter of rolling back abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act and more was a way to further energize an already engaged liberal base to go to the polls.

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Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

In his first major political speech in the U.S. since leaving office, former President Barack Obama argued that Americans must rebuke President Trump at the polls this November.

As both parties begin their final post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day, there are concrete signs that Democratic voters are fired up heading into the midterm elections.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the majority of states that have already held primaries. There's been massive increases in Democratic turnout while often a minimal uptick — or even noticeable dip — in turnout among Republican voters.

Voters go to the polls in Arizona and Florida today, picking nominees in critical Senate and gubernatorial races.

Weekend events could cast a pall over contests in both states, though. Arizona Sen. John McCain died on Saturday, and while it's the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake on the ballot Tuesday, both the late senator and President Trump — who did little to hide his disdain for McCain — have factored into the bitter primary there.

Just under a month before Election Day 2008, a woman stood up at a rally and told Republican nominee John McCain a major concern she had about his White House opponent.

As the 2018 midterms draw closer, President Trump continues to claim there is a "Red Wave!" brewing.

The problem is that concrete voting data shows a very different type of wave forming — one that's poised to give Democrats a comfortable majority in the House.

Primary voters in four more states — Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont — go to the polls on Tuesday.

This year's been dominated by talk of Democratic gains, but Tuesday, Republicans will pick nominees in several places where they hope to flip House seats and even governors' mansions.

Two Republicans who failed to win the White House are hoping voters will elect them to lead their states for a third time — but one is trying to make a political comeback after almost a decade out of office.

Updated at 8:26 a.m. ET

Republican Troy Balderson held a narrow lead over Democrat Danny O'Connor in a hotly-contested Ohio special congressional election, with outstanding provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted.

Even if Balderson secures victory in the end, the result is sending the GOP warning signs for what's to come in November.

A critical House special election on Tuesday could provide some of the biggest clues yet about how much trouble Republicans could be in this November.

In Ohio, the last Republican vs. Democrat matchup before November has become the latest proxy fight for whether Democrats can harness the energy, activism and overperformance in past special elections to pull off an upset in a GOP-held district.

In the Trump era, the phrase "all politics is local" may feel like an anachronism. But in Tennessee, Phil Bredesen is trying to prove that national partisan divides can be overcome in the most surprising Senate battleground of 2018.

Former President Barack Obama weighed in on behalf of 81 candidates for federal and state offices on Wednesday, his first major batch of endorsements for the 2018 midterm elections.

"I'm proud to endorse such a wide and impressive array of Democratic candidates – leaders as diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they're running to represent," Obama said in a statement.

Americans don't think President Trump has been tough enough on Russia, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted after Trump's summit in Helsinki last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nearly two-thirds said so, and it wasn't just Democrats. Almost half of Republicans surveyed (47 percent) also said Trump hasn't been tough enough on Russia, with just 20 percent saying he has taken about the right approach.

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