Some late-night election updates for you:
*The Minnesota Senate race pitting the nation’s unfunniest comedian against Norm Coleman is a dead heat at 42-42. There’s talk of a recount.
*In a reprise of 2004, the Washington state gubernatorial race is a squeaker. Democrat incumbent Christine Gregoire is holding a premature celebration; GOP challenger upstart Dino Rossi, who lost by 133 votes last time, is not conceding.
*California’s gay marriage ban, Prop. 8, is too close to call:
A measure to once again ban gay marriage in California led Tuesday, throwing into doubt the unions of an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who wed during the last 4 1/2 months.
As the measure, the most divisive and emotionally fraught on the state ballot this year, took a lead in early returns, supporters gathered at a hotel ballroom in Sacramento and cheered.
“We caused Californians to rethink this issue,” Proposition 8 strategist Jeff Flint said.
Early in the campaign, he noted, polls showed the measure trailing by 17 points.
“I think the voters were thinking, well, if it makes them happy, why shouldn’t we let gay couples get married. And I think we made them realize that there are broader implications to society and particularly the children when you make that fundamental change that’s at the core of how society is organized, which is marriage,” he said.
But in San Francisco at the packed headquarters of the No on 8 campaign party in the Westin St. Francis Hotel, supporters of same-sex marriage refused to despair, saying that they were holding out hope for victory.
“You decided to live your life out loud. You fell in love and you said ‘I do.’ Tonight, we await a verdict,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, speaking to a roaring crowd. “I’m crossing my fingers.”
Elsewhere in the country, two other gay marriage bans, in Florida and Arizona, were well ahead. In both states, laws already defined marriage as a heterosexual institution. But backers pushed to amend the state constitutions, saying that doing so would protect the institution from legal challenges.
Proposition 8 was the most expensive proposition on any ballot in the nation this year, with more than $74 million spent by both sides.
*Amendment 46 in Colorado, Ward Connerly’s ballot measure to eliminate racial preferences in government, is also too close to call.
*Voters in several states rejected abortion restriction measures.
*Unbelievably, pork-stuffed corruptocrat criminal GOP Sen. Ted Stevens is locked in a dead heat with his Democrat challenger. Make Uncle Ted go away, already. Geez.
Oregon’s Senate race is also up in the air:
In Oregon and Alaska, the races are equally close, but with just over 50 percent of the precincts reporting in the two states.
In Oregon, with 53 percent of precincts reporting, state Speaker Jeff Merkley (D) had 457,132 votes, for 47 percent, and Sen. Gordon Smith (R) had 451,276 votes, also for 47 percent. Dave Brownlow, the Constitution Party candidate, had 6 percent. Oregon is the only state where voters cast votes exclusively by mail.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, convicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R) had a 48 percent to 47 percent lead over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D). Stevens was convicted last week in a federal corruption trial, and Begich was thought to be ahead since the Senator’s conviction.
Democrats will fall short of the filibuster-proof 60-seat majority they were seeking, and the three uncalled races will determine just how large their majority will be. So far, Democrats have picked up five seats, knocking off GOP Sens. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and John Sununu (N.H.) and capturing open seats in Colorado, New Mexico and Virginia. Including two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, that puts the party at 56 Senate seats, pending the results of the Alaska, Oregon and Minnesota races.
One more for you: It’s tight in Georgia. Chambliss/Martin…
Sen. Saxby Chambliss led the Senate race in Georgia, but with hundreds of thousands of early voting ballots still being counted in key counties, it wasn’t clear late Tuesday whether he had escaped a runoff.
To avoid a runoff, Mr. Chambliss needs more than 50 percent of the vote. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, he led with 51 percent, followed by Democrat Jim Martin at 46 percent and Libertarian Allen Buckley at 3 percent.
State elections officials said late Tuesday that early voting from Fulton and Gwinnett counties had yet to be counted. Early voting in those two counties alone totaled more than 275,000 votes.
The campaign started with most observers expecting Mr. Chambliss to win with little trouble. Polls showed him comfortably ahead until the financial crisis captured voters’ attention about four weeks ago, and his lead quickly eroded.
National Democrats had put few resources into the race. But after Mr. Chambliss voted for the $700 billion financial bailout, Democrats from across the country and the national party pumped money in, allowing Mr. Martin to increase TV advertising.
Mr. Chambliss acknowledged that people had been upset with him over the bailout vote but they were coming to understand he had to do something.