The Eleventh Hour curveball that FBI Director James Comey threw into the presidential election by re-opening his agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton, is showing repercussions in some down-ballot races — notably the Senate.
Comey announced Friday that due to the discovery of previously unreleased emails while investigating an unrelated matter, the FBI had reopened its criminal investigation into Clinton’s email server.
Up until that announcement, Capitol Hill observers pretty much agreed that the Senate would fall back into Democratic control — they need to pick up five seats to wrest control from the GOP — four if Clinton wins the presidency, given that her vice president would cast a deciding vote in the event of a draw, The Hill reported.
Until Friday’s announcement, the Cook Political Report predicted that the Democrats could pick up as many as seven seats.
In Indiana, the Bayh name is known in every household, so when former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh announced he would once again run for his old Senate seat, he was considered a shoo-in.
But his initial double-digit lead over Republican Rep. Todd Young has shrunk to less that four points due to his lobbying since he retired his seat in 2010 as well as questions over his residency.
In Missouri, Democratic secretary of State Jason Kander is challenging Republican Sen. Roy Blunt by running on what is generally considered a GOP message — anti-Washington insider politics.
That message has turned Kanter’s bid from what was considered a long-shot into a too-close-to-call situation. But it’s believed that Republican nominee Donald Trump will take Missouri, which will hamper Kanter’s chances — along with the FBI’s reopened investigation.
In Nevada, Sen. Harry Reid’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election turned 2016 into a contest between Republican Rep. Joe Heck and Democrat and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Heck leading by the slimmest of margins — 1.4 percentage points — and Republicans would love nothing more than to flip the seat long-held by Reid, the ultra-partisan Senate minority leader.
In New Hampshire, incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte currently enjoys a narrow 2.7 percentage point lead over her challenger, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, in a race that also favored Hassan in past polls.
Other too-close-to-call races include North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois — all of which have incumbent Republicans battling for their political lives.
The FBI director’s decision to re-open the criminal case against Clinton should give them all a much-needed boost. Had Comey made the right decision in the beginning, all this last-minute nail-biting could have been avoided and Clinton could possibly have been facing a trial rather than the possibility of becoming the most powerful person in the world.
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