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CNN Live Event/Special

Mark Kelly Wins Arizona Senate; Mark Kelly Questions Election Integrity; Too Close To Call The Nevada Senate Race; Arizona Welcomes Complaint From Candidates; Katie Hobbs Is Ahead Of Kari Lake. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 11, 2022 - 22:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Democrats have won 48 Senate seats so far. Republicans have won 49 Senate seats so far. If Democrats can pull off wins in both Arizona and Nevada, they would seal control of the Senate with the tiebreaking vote, of course, being that vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Let's go right to Arizona first, where those Maricopa County votes are coming in at any moment now. Kyung Lah is on the scene for us. This is an important round of counting votes. We're about to see within the next few minutes.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very important round of votes. We're expecting 80,000, approximately 80,000 votes to be released. That information is highly anticipated here, especially by Republican nominee Blake Masters for U.S. Senate, and the reason why is because the Blake Masters campaign believes that in this batch can potentially be their path.

I'm still refreshing my screen here because we are anticipating that these numbers should be coming out at any moment. So why do they believe that these numbers could be so critical for them? Because what this batch is is more than half the majority of these ballots will be those mail-in ballots that were dropped off on election day.

The anticipation from the Masters campaign as well as from Republican nominee for governor, Kari Lake, is that these will be, they're in their favor that these are Republican votes.

Now, voting patterns have changed significantly here in the state of Arizona from 2018 to 2020 because of the influence of Donald Trump as well as the pandemic. So, it's very difficult to know if indeed there is going to be any sort of shift, and if that belief that these Republican campaigns have that it is going to be in their favor is actually going to be true.

Now I continue to flip on my screen here, because these numbers, if they do come in, in the Republican's favor it could reverse the trend. And we are starting to see a lot of pressure building certainly the rhetoric from the campaigns that they anticipate that this will be in their favor. They have been talking to their followers on Twitter, amping this up,

if you will, especially Kari Lake saying that when this happen that this going to be her path as well. She has been repeating this on Twitter over and over again, as well as in interviews on right wing media.

But for the time being, what we're seeing is the very good duty and the busyness here at the elections office. Because of the massive number of votes, a record 70 percent more than the highest number of mail-in ballots delivered on, dropped off on election day.

It has really created a bit of a backlog. And let me explain why. Those ballots, they're mail-in ballots, you sign the outside and your ballot is on the inside when you drop it off at the vote center the signature then has to be verified because they want to make sure that the ballot is assigned to a person, that it is an accurate ballot.

So that takes some time. That's why it is taking some time. You know, time is linear. You have to go through those ballots one by one. Get them signature verified and then you can run them through the tabulator. So it is a slow process, but it is one that is mandated by state law. It is the state legislature that has set the rules and now the county here has to follow through.

The numbers have not come in yet. What we have been told by the county is that it is fluid. It could be -- 8.01 local time here anytime in this hour. So, last night it was right at 8.01, and right now it is, let's see, I'm looking at my clock here. It is 8.03 Mountain Time, 10.03 Eastern Time, and we still do not have these numbers yet.

But it has been fluctuating throughout the night, Wolf. We are waiting for these figures to come through. There is currently in the race for the U.S. Senate, The critical race for the U.S. Senate. Mark Kelly is leading Blake Masters. Katie Hobbs on the race for governor. She is the Democrat and the current secretary of state. She is leading Kari Lake by a hair.

So again, Wolf, still waiting for these numbers have not gotten them. Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state of Arizona. This is where it often comes down to. The people who you see at these tabulators, at these adjudication centers working to try to make sure that these -- that these ballots are accurate, that the signatures match, and that if there is any sort of dispute that they sort it here. And then those ballots run through and they are counted.

What we are also hearing are these rep -- are some of the far-right media trying to insert some conspiracies. It is on the fringes. You can see it certainly on social media. And right now, it's a lot of rhetoric. There's heated rhetoric. There's a lot of attention being paid on Maricopa County.


And when I talk to the people here, the elections officials here in Maricopa County, you can see it in their face not only the exhaustion, but also this, this duty and resiliency to try to keep going.

So, Wolf, still waiting for these numbers. What we'll do is try to keep going and keep refreshing, and hopefully we'll have this information for you soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: Soon as those numbers come in, we'll get back to you, Kyung. Standby. We're getting back to you very, very soon.

John, give us a little perspective right now why Maricopa County is so critically important.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. The reason this is so important and the reason we're standing here waiting and Kyung is refreshing and standing with us, and that's a remarkable job on live television by the way, is that you have 115,000 vote lead and we are told we're about to get somewhere in the ballpark of 80,000 vote.

So, if you are Blake Masters and you are trailing and you heard Kyung, they have been telling reporters all the day, just please wait for these votes. Yes, that's a big lead. Yes, the Democrats ahead, but you just wait. When these votes come in, you're going to see Blake Masters come back.

So, when we get this first chunk, that's the big test. Right? Now, there are more votes to come after, but remember in 2020, you know, we knew mail-in ballots were going to favor the Democrats. We saw that in state after state, after state, so you could make the statistical analysis when you get there. We knew election day ballots were favoring Republicans.

This is a sort of a hybrid, if you will. It was a -- it was a mail-in ballot, an early ballot sent to a House, but then dropped off on election day. And so, who are those voters? Well, we don't know and we just need to be honest about that.

So, this first batch of these late early, if you will, there's some new terminology for you, will give us a sense, and then you'll have a second batch behind that. And from there you say, OK, they are tracking a pattern. We saw a pattern in 2020, will we have a pattern in 2022? We don't know.

But if you have 115,000-vote lead, they're about to release 80,000 votes in the state's most populous county, well then you are thinking this is going to tell you something very important. Right? Right now, Senator Kelly is winning 53 percent in Maricopa County.

This is a big county. Phoenix and the suburbs around it are trending more Democratic, but this is nearly 9,300 square miles. You see all the red around it. There are a lot of conservative voters on the outskirts of Maricopa County.

BLITZER: Hold on a minute. Kyung Lah is getting the numbers right now. Kyung.

LAH: I have a --


BLITZER: Update our viewers.

LAH: I have them. They -- sorry. Yes, sorry. I'm waving at the camera that they just hit my computer. They -- the Maricopa County Elections Department has just posted this. John, if you are there, here are the numbers.

Mark Kelly, the Democrat for U.S. Senate, the votes that he currently has according to this county, 683,410 votes, 683,410. Blake Masters, the Republican. He has 572,000, 572,113. Five seven two, one, one three.

Turning to the gubernatorial race, Democrat Katie Hobbs has 667,833, 667,833. Kari Lake has 607,359 votes. She is a Republican nominee, 607,359. So those are the latest numbers from Maricopa County. They just hit the web site. You know, it is the percentages, percentage wise, 53 percent from Mark Kelly, Blake Masters at 45 percent. And turning to the governor race percentage wise, 52 percent for Katie Hobbs, 48 percent for Kari Lake.

BLITZER: Kyung, thank you very, very much. John, give us your analysis.

KING: Not what the Republicans needed. That's the simple analysis. That's the headline analysis. That doesn't mean they were done. There are more votes to come. There are more votes to come, but they have been banking on this first batch because it includes such a high percentage of those mail early ballots dropped off on election day.

They were counting on those being Republicans who vote on election day who just decided to do it with an early ballot they had received at home. Right? This is competitive. Look how competitive this is, right? Competitive is great, but it's not enough when you're trailing. Competitive is great, but it's not enough when you're trailing.

And so, when you bring it up right here, this is now they're in the system, right? So, I'm going to move the chalkboards out of the way because you see here, 683,41o, right? The system has now processed these votes. So, let's move these out of the way.

In Maricopa County, Mark Kelly is still at 53 percent. Blake Masters need -- he needed -- he needed a much bigger percentage. Now, again, I want to caution, there are more votes outstanding, but if we went through this in 2020, we're watching this in Arizona and Nevada. Now when the new votes come in, you have to meet your target.

Because every time new votes come in, there's a smaller pool left to count, and so you need to meet or exceed your target if you're the trailing candidate. Blake Masters did not do that. He did not do that by a quite significant margin, I believe, and David will have those numbers in a minute.

Kari Lake, again, these are the new numbers in Maricopa County. I'm going to come out to statewide a minute. Right. She did not meet her target. That's a competitive number. When you match them all up together, it's competitive in a Democratic county. She was a local TV anchor. Remember that.


But again, it's, it's just not the percentage. If you're trailing, you need a bigger percentage than that. So, we come out to statewide and we look at this and what's the result? Katie Hobbs has stretched her lead from where we were before, stretched her lead from where we were before. So, she has stretched.

Kari Lake, needed to make it up. Her campaigns were telling reporters all day we will make it up when these come in. There are more to come. It is still mathematically possible. But you see right there, she has come up. And Wolf, when you look at the Senate race, the same thing has happened. That was 115,000 before these votes come in, it's 123,000, almost 124,000 right now. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much. We can now make a major projection in the fight for the U.S. Senate. CNN now projects that Democratic Senator Mark Kelly wins reelection in Arizona, pulling off a critical victory for his party. The former astronaut defeating the Trump endorsed Republican Blake Masters in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the nation.

Again, CNN projects Senator Mark Kelly wins reelection in Arizona. That means Democrats and Republicans now have won 49 Senate seats each. But Democrats are closer than Republicans to winning Senate control right now. They need only one more seat to lock up a Senate majority because the Vice President, Kamala Harris has the tie breaking vote. Very dramatic development right now.

Dana, over to you.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is huge, huge news. Mark Kelly as Wolf said, former astronaut, he's already been in the Senate because he is filling the seat of John McCain. Now this gives him a full term as he like to say over and over again. He's been campaigning for 46 months straight because of that.

This is a race that Democrats and Republicans were vying for hoping that this could be one that would tip them over the edge, but it stays in Democratic hands and Democrats and Republicans each are one away from, or Democrats are one away from locking up.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is really an extraordinary development. Just that we are sitting here talking about Democrats potentially retaining control, but really what we're talking about them is the potential that they could even expand a majority in the Senate. In part because this is a big piece of that puzzle.

And when I -- when you think about Mark Kelly, he has always been a target for Republicans, really from day one to take this seat back and put it back in Republican hands. And he has been walking this tightrope as a senator trying to distance himself just enough from Washington Democrats from President Biden, dealing with inflation as an issue, dealing with the border, which is a huge issue for him. But got a huge boost because he was running against a very Trumpy

candidate. Someone who, you know, Donald Trump really inserted himself in this race, and I think both parties would agree. There's no question that helped him out in this race.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: No, it absolutely did. And when Mitch McConnell has talked about candidate quality, much to the chagrin of Rick Scott and other Republicans who were trying to win the map over for Republicans, he's talking about people like Blake Masters who was boosted by the billionaire, Peter Thiel.

But there was a lot of infighting among McConnell and others pulling money out of the race because they didn't think that he could win. And this is now born out. And quite frankly, this is one of those seats where it's likely now that Mark Kelly has won this term. He could hold this seat for many, many years.

I mean, this was really their absolute best shot at potentially putting this Arizona seat in Republican hands. But like, look at the map. If they win in Nevada, that's it. The runoff in Georgia doesn't matter. If Cortez Masto doesn't pull it out, we're still --


BASH: Doesn't matter for control of the Senate.

HUNT: -- for control of the Senate.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just think about where we were coming in, I mean to this the Republicans were so bullish running, coming into Tuesday, they thought they were going to take the majority 52 seats.

Rick Scott even said back in October 55 seats was even possible. Now they're looking at the possibility of losing a seat. It could be a 51, 49 Senate. That is a realistic possibility for the Republicans.

When you look back at this, looking at this cycle, it reminds me a lot of what happened to the Republicans in election cycles like 2010 and 2012, where they did nominate these candidates who turned out to be lackluster underperforming candidates in the general election, costing them the clear chance of taking back the Senate majority in those two cycles.

That is what Senator McConnell has been so concerned about, and that's what happened in Pennsylvania. That's what happened with Arizona and at the concern that could happen in Nevada as well.

BASH: Yes, and we're talking about what this means on a national level and when it comes to the big picture in the Senate, but I just want to take a moment also to note that the only reason Mark Kelly ran for office in the first place is because he got involved in politics with his wife, Gabby Giffords, who was the one who people were looking at all those years ago to potentially, she was in the House, to potentially, ultimately run in the Senate.

She didn't get to do that. She was shot, almost killed.



BASH: Others were killed when she was just doing her job. She was meeting with constituents in her district in Tucson. And so, while we're talking about where we are in the body politic, where we are in the electorate, and I think it just -- it's important to take a moment and note that he's only there because of violence against a politician who happened to be his wife.


BASH: That's what -- that's what made him want to run.

PHILLIP: Very much so. And, you know, I mean, you think about Gabby Giffords, she is now, I think for the country really a beloved figure. Just someone that we as a country have watched her recover from that horrible accident.

And when we saw at the end of the campaign, Mark Kelly really leaning into that storyline, a lot of these currents were happening at the same time.

Democrats remember, were trying to make an argument to voters that you cannot trust the Senate, you cannot trust the country to the other party. The argument was that they were too extreme. And the problem if you are a Blake Masters, is that he did, as a candidate, did almost nothing to push back against that argument.

And I think that Kelly, who he is up against who Blake Masters was, I think that was a huge contrast.

BASH: Yes. And it -- this is one other example, just to bring it back to where we started, of the Trump wing. Somebody who was trying as hard as he could to kiss Trump's ring to keep it clean. He --


PHILLIP: And he did it literally on camera.

BASH: He didn't -- he didn't win. And it didn't -- and it didn't serve him well at all.

HUNT: And it was Mark Kelly who was embracing the legacy of John McCain.

BASH: That's true.

HUNT: Here. And I think that's not important to not lose sight of.

BASH: OK, Good. To kick it over to Anderson and his panel.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Dana, just amazing development just within the last few minutes. David Axelrod, I mean, unthinkable a week ago.


COOPER: Not this race in particular --


AXELROD: No, the whole --

COOPER: But just the situation that Democrats now find themselves.

AXELROD: -- the whole scenario, the whole scenario, and you know, so much of Trump is right in the middle of this because he really cast these races.

COOPER: I mean, this is another body blow to Trump.

AXELROD: Yes, Dr. Oz.

COOPER: And maybe Oz.

AXELROD Dr. Oz, Masters. We'll see what happens with Herschel Walker in Georgia. J.D. Vance in Ohio was his candidate. And the Republicans had to send tens of millions of dollars in there to a state that they assumed they were going to win to save J.D. Vance. Money that could have been used in other races around the country.

So, this, you know, this is going to be right at his feet and it's going to touch off this debate that we've been talking about all week.

COOPER: Allison, I mean, for Democrats.


COOPER: Sorry, Ashley. I'm sorry, Ashley. I was pointing at you.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No worries, no worries. I mean, a couple of things. Why I think this happens. Blake Masters changes his policy on abortion halfway, taking things off of his web site because it's not trending well, voters don't find that authentic they saw through it. Election denier.

But I actually want to go back a couple of years to Sheriff Arpaio. When the very, very intense disrespectful policies around immigration and being and racially profiling folks. Something happened in that state in Arizona and people started organizing there. We see in Arizona, Mark Kelly outperformed any Senate candidate with young people, 76 percent the exit poll show he performed with young people. That's better than any other Democratic candidate.

You have organizers on the ground who are undocumented, who are -- who were ta -- targeted by that policy. And guess who pardons are piled. Trump. And so, I think -- I think there is something to be said about the grassroots effort, the inauthenticity of candidates.

And don't forget Navajo Nation high turnout of almost unprecedented.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, he was an election denier, promoted by Donald Trump. And today he came out and he blamed Mitch McConnell for his potential loss because Mitch McConnell didn't pour money, more money into his campaign. And if he were to lose, that would be why he lost, as if his candidacy had nothing to do with it.

So, this is one more loss for Donald in a huge, huge way. He tried to erase Donald Trump as you point out when he, you know, when he needed to get more independent voters and they didn't fool for it. You have to have a set of beliefs and he didn't.


STEWART: But here's the thing. What Masters is another example, as David mentioned is election denier, conspiracy theorist erasing policy positions from his web site. She had another example of when Republicans sit back after this election is dust is settled and say, what do we do moving forward? How do we keep the Blake Masters supporters, Dr. Oz supporters and all the Trump base, how do we keep them on board and also, grow the base and move forward to do well.


AXELROD: I also --

COOPER: Wait. Hold -- listen.

STEWART: As much as we want to criticize the conspiracy theorists and and elected deniers, they're a huge part of the Republican Party and we have to keep them on board.



ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But can we just-- but can we just take a moment and pour one out for Doug Ducey who could have been our senator --


ALLISON: Exactly.

GRIFFIN: Who would've beat Mark Kelly in this race.

AXELROD: For governor.

GRIFFIN: Think about this.

AXELROD: Kept out of the race by Trump.

GRIFFIN: Trump kicked out of the race by Trump. Think about this. Chris Sununu would've won in New Hampshire very likely would've beat Maggie Hassan. Ducey in Arizona, Charlie Baker would still be the Republican governor in Massachusetts. He is scaring same smart governance-oriented Republicans out of the field, and we're losing seats.

This may have cost us the Senate. We still obviously --


JENNINGS: Yes. The whole issue here of candidate quality and this discussion. I mean, it is coming home to roost. Although Arizona was never in the core firewall of states that I think Republicans were banking on had we been able to recruit a better candidate here. I mean, Blake Masters was one of the worst candidates we had in this cycle.

He had just a strange candidacy all throughout, and Trump was attracted to him. He was also heavily dependent on other people. He was depending on Peter Thiel for his primary financing. He didn't run much of a campaign in the general, and now he is out complaining that other people didn't, you know, put him in a baby Bjorn and run around with them on the chest.

AXELROD: I know.

JENNINGS: It's, I mean, it's kind of pathetic, honestly, if you're going to run for the United States Senate, go build a campaign and don't whine about it after you forgot to do that.

AXELROD: Two things. First of all, let's not shortchange Mark Kelly.

BORGER: Yes, exactly.

AXELROD: Who ran a very, very good campaign. He raised a lot of money, but he also had a great message that was very much tailored for Arizona, was really a John McCain type message. Stressed his military service, stressed the fact that he'd work with anybody as he did in the military, Republican or Democrat, to move the country forward.

And he was relentless in that message, and he really matched the state as the state exists today. This is not a Republican state anymore. This is a swing state, and Mark Kelly reflects that state.

And the other thing, Anderson, I just want to say is we're focused on the Senate race. The governor's race is really, really interesting here. And they're related because Kari Lake is perhaps the most flamboyant election denier on the ballot anywhere in the country. She already declared herself the victor before the polls were closed. And she is struggling tonight.

She said she was going to, you know, have a big night tonight. It didn't happen. And I do think it continues this pattern that we see throughout the country. You know, Alice, you say, well, election deniers are part of our coalition, and we have to speak to them too.

I think the voters who are deciding these elections are saying, you got to choose between us or them. BORGER: Yes. Right. And you know --


COOPER: But Scott -- but Scott, you've made the point that, I mean, the voters are saying they want politicians to work together to get things done. They just want stuff to get done. Sensible things. That's not what these candidates are going to face when they actually start serving out their terms.

And they're going to be facing a House, which is, you know, the Republicans are, you know, it's like Lord of the Flies right now over McCarthy.

JENNINGS: Yes, I mean, the House has a different character and quality by design than what you get out of the Senate or what you get out of governors. I mean, you know, it's the old saying, the House is the sloshing hot tea and the Senate is the saucer that catches the tea and the something and cools it off.

And so, you get a little bit more rambunctiousness out of the House. But there is a lesson in all of this. Experience seems to help you these days. Having a record of just keeping things between the navigational beacons seems to help you these days.

And I think the point that was made about kind of changing your positions because you know, one day you're in a primary one day, no. Authenticity --

ALLISON: Matters.

JENNINGS: -- is key to the concept of candidate quality.

BORGER: And --

JENNINGS: If they think you're full of crap, they could smell it from a mile away.

COOPER: Ashley.

ALLISON: It matters because our democracy was almost overthrown on January 6th. And people want to know if something like that happens where will you stand. If you are the sky is blue today, but it's red tomorrow. I don't want you in my -- I don't want you in some of the highest offices in our land. It's dangerous.

And so, I agree with you like authenticity matters and the voters see through it.

BORGER: And beliefs matter. And Mark Kelly was popular, he remains popular in the state of Arizona. What was the reason to dethrone him as a United States senator? The reason to dethrone him according to Blake Masters was, wait a minute. He didn't believe the election was rigged.

ALLISON: Right. BORGER: OK? That is that the reason to dethrone.

AXELROD: Well, he actually --


BORGER: According to Donald Trump.

AXELROD: He actually stressed that -- he actually stressed Biden. I mean he, that was a lot. He, you know, as with most of these candidates that did not work. People want, they want stability. They want -- they want sanity. And a guy like Mark Kelly, who's not a very flamboyant character but does exude sort of --



BORGER: But they didn't agree with. But I think, you know, when he disagreed with him, he said he disagreed with them.

AXELROD: Right. Right.

BORGER: He had an immigration policy, you know, he was a real old fashioned Senate candidate.

GRIFFIN: Real quick, the Arizona GOP needs to get its act together. This is a party that is running against John McCain. They're insulting his family. They've done this time and time again, the most popular statesman from that same decades --


JENNINGS: Yes, the other night.

GRIFFIN: They need to realize what their values are there.

JENNINGS: The other night Kari Lake said if there's a John McCain supporter in this room, I want you to get the out of here.



JENNINGS: I mean, I subscribe --


GRIFFIN: You reap what you sow.

JENNINGS: -- to the quaint notion that political parties and campaigns are designed to add to the people that you have in your --


COOPER: But also, I mean, what has Kari Lake ever done? I mean, no offense to TV anchors, but she's been a TV anchor her entire life.

BORGER: That's it.

COOPER: And in a state, I don't know --


JENNINGS: And an Obama supporter.

COOPER: I mean, yes. I mean, it's for her to be insulting John McCain just seems --


STEWART: But and also, it's another example of what works for Trump doesn't correlate with other people. And I think the Arizona GOP and many state GOP leaders across the country are going to recognize Trump might be a trophy in a primary, but he has toxic in a general.

COOPER: Let's go to Wolf. Wolf?

BLITZER: Anderson, thank you. We have another major projection to make right now in Arizona. Once again, CNN projects that Democrat Adrian Fontes wins the race to become Arizona's secretary of State. Fontes defeating Republican Mark Finchem, an election denier who attended the rally outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, and is also a self-proclaimed member of the radical right-wing group, The Oath Keepers.

Once again, CNN projects the Democrat Adrian Fontes wins as Arizona's Secretary of State. Let's go over to John King and take a closer look at what's going. Lots of developments in Arizona right now, John. This is very, very significant and at stake right now the future of the U.S. Senate.

KING: And it's not often we're on national television talking about a secretary of state's race. that's a win for math. That's a win for team normal. That's a win for somebody who counts, follows respects the process. If the Republicans win, the Republicans win. The Democrats win. The Democrats win.

That's the way it's supposed to happen in elections. And Mr. Fontes has beat Mr. Finchem who has a very different view of how things are supposed to work.

So where are we now? Let's come back to the United States Senate. Right? Right. We just had -- we just projected Mark Kelly the winner here. Right? So, when you bring this map out, now I'm going to come here. This is ahead. Right. So, I'm going to do this. These are the races we have called. Right?

So, right now, Democrats have two shots. Two shots. They win either here or here. They get the Senate majority. Republicans need now to win them both because Republicans need 51. Democrats only need 50 because they have the Vice President of the United States. Right? So, the Democrats, it's possible, Wolf, as Nevada results continue to come in, it's possible Democrats can clench the majority before the December 6th runoff in Georgia.

And some new votes just came in here in Washoe County, right? First, let me come back to show you this. Last time we spoke about this race, Adam Laxalt the Republican challenger was up more than 1,700 votes. Now it's back to 821 votes, 821 votes. Why? Because when the votes came in from Washoe, let me come down here and pull this out for you, Nevada Senate and bring it up. Let's move it over a little bit here.

OK, let me find my pencil. It just has to pull away. We'll get that. Here we go. Boom. This is what just happened. This is a swing county. Republicans needed to make up ground here. Instead, here's what happened. Five thousand two hundred -- sorry. And 21 votes, 53 percent, right?

She's leading -- he's leading, he needs to -- he's leading statewide, 4,691, 43 percent. So, she's trailing. You got to make up ground. That's how you do it. You've -- by 10 points in this installment of vote, right? That's 10,000 votes right there, 10,000 votes.

So, what does that mean? That means in a swing county, number one, she's taken the lead and she's holding her lead at 50 percent to 47 percent. Often in Nevada, we talk a lot about Clark County because that's where most of the people live, 70 percent plus of the population, but often in Nevada politics in this swing county, Reno, Tahoe, a lot of relocated people from California. The color of this county in the end is very often an indicator of who's winning statewide in Nevada.

Let's come back. Eight hundred twenty-one votes now and most of the outstanding votes are here in Clark County. Again, he is still leading statewide, fewer than a thousand votes, but she is leading by 52 percent in the largest and most populous county. And that's where most of the outstanding votes are.

Now, it guarantees nothing but that math tells you, that if it -- if the votes continue to follow, even that pattern, she has plenty of opportunity to catch up with the outstanding votes. I make that point because if you come back on our map, if you look at where people are ahead right now, not all these races are called, but they're all -- they're all called on the map except for Georgia, where the Raphael Warnock won on election day. That almost should go back to gray in the sense that we have to start over on December 6th.


But if that red turns to blue, then Democrats keep their Senate majority and Georgia will be gravy, if you will, for the Democrats trying to get to 51. Republicans desperately need to win that, and then that they need to.

The odds for the Democrats are great. They just need to win one of the two states left on the board. Republicans need to win them both and at the moment, the trend line here are in the Democrats favor without a doubt. BLITZER: The Democrats need to get to 50. The Republicans need to get to 51 because the vice president can break a tie. We've just projected that Senator Mark Kelly will win the Senate race in Arizona, but the governor's race remains uncalled, at least for now.

I want to bring in the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Bill Gates.

Bill, thanks so much for joining us.

Blake Masters, by the way, just made some allegations that ballots in Maricopa County, your county, have been mixed up. Listen to this.


BLAKE MASTERS (R), ARIZONA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: So, people when they got to a machine and the machine didn't work, they were invited to just drop their ballot -- ballot in a secure box. Hey, we'll count this later. Well, it turns out Maricopa County on at least two occasions mixed up those uncounted ballots with ballots that had already been counted.

So, it's a giant disaster. It's a giant mess to try to unmix these ballots. Right? I think the most honest thing at this point would be for Maricopa County to wipe the slate clean and just take all the ballots and do a fresh count.


BLITZER: And the RNC, the Republican National Committee, just released a statement saying this election has exposed what they call deep flaws in Mari -- County -- Maricopa County's election administration. I want to get your response, Bill.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Well, Wolf, thanks for having me. First of all, let's take the Blake Masters allegation. There were two vote centers where the ballots that went into that box three were actually co-mingled with the ballots that went through the tabulator.

Now here's the thing. We can absolutely address this and we will, in those two instances, we know exactly how many people checked in at that vote center. We can then check the total number of ballots that are -- that were left there either tabulated or in box three and determine if they're the same. We can segregate those out and make a determination.

And the best thing of all is that we will do this with the Republican and Democrat observers watching this to make sure that everything checks out. Again, the issue is every one of those votes is going to be counted. The people cast at the vote center. The only issue has been where they're being tabulated. They're at the vote center or here at central count.

Furthermore, as to Blake Masters' suggestion that we should, quote, "wipe the slate clean and start counting over again," that is simply not allowed for under Arizona law.

Additionally, the suggestion by the Republican National Committee that there is something untoward going on here in Maricopa County is absolutely false. And again, is offensive to these good elections workers behind me who have been working 14 to 18-hour days every day now, and they continued. They did it today on a holiday, Veterans Day. They'll continue to do it through a weekend, through this weekend and into early of next week.

And as far as the allegation that this is taking too long, when we look back in the history books here, over the past couple of decades, on average it takes 10 to 12 days to complete the count. That's not because of anything Maricopa County has decided to do. That's because of how Arizona law is set up, and that's what we do here at Maricopa County. We follow the law to make sure that the count is accurate.

BLITZER: And just to note this, Bill, that that RNC statement was made before CNN's projection. You're a Republican, are you OK with the Republican Party, the National Republican Party, making these kinds of accusations?

GATES: Well, I'm not OK with it because they're false. Again, I would prefer that if there are concerns that they have, that they communicate those to us here. I'm a Republican. Three of my colleagues on the board are Republicans. Raise these issues with us, discuss them with us, as opposed to making these baseless claims.

And again, they're egging people on. They're hyping up the rhetoric here, which is exactly what we don't need to do. Let the count continue on, and at the end, if they have issues that they choose to take to court, they have every right to do that. And we'll let that process play through.

But making these really baseless claims using this kind of fiery language against these good people here who have been doing this, the 3,000 temporary workers who were brought in to run this election.


Again, folks from the RNC wherever that is in D.C. telling us how to do things in Maricopa County, we don't like that.

KING: Mr. Gates, this is John King. Again, thank you for your time. I just want to make a point for what you're saying. The same things were done in 2020 and I've -- what you caution people is don't believe what you hear on television. See if people can actually prove it where it matters.

You're going to do a canvass. There are courts of law. In 2020, these same things were said, and in the -- in the canvass backed up your count. The courts of law backed up your account. Even the Cyber Ninjas backed up your count, which is a -- so I'll leave that part for there.

But so, we just got these results. It was enough for us to make the projection that Mark Kelly would be reelected in the United States Senate because he had that big lead statewide heading in. And we saw the percentages in your new report, which included a sizable percentage of those so-called late earlys.

People had ballots at home, early ballots, but they dropped them off on election day and we weren't quite sure how they were going to turn out. In 2020, as you well know, early ballots tended to favor Democrats, election day voting show up and vote in the machine overwhelmingly favored Republicans. We weren't sure what to make of these.

Are we now in the sense that you have a giant county, it's 9,200 plus square miles. Do you know the ones that were released tonight? Are they from the central Phoenix area? The more close in suburbs that tend to meet more Democratic, you know, you see surrounded by red areas. Is this a representative sample I'm asking, can we make statistical projections based on it or do we need more before you're sure.

GATES: Yes, so I can tell you just to break it down briefly for you, there's less than, 10,000 of these votes are late earlys that came in before election day. There's about 13,000, 12,000 of these that are actually election day votes in person, and then the rest of the 75,000 are late earlys dropped off on election day.

We do not know where these are from. These could be from anywhere in the county, all 75,000. This is not picked out of a certain area. These are not pulled by precinct.

KING: And so, then the -- just give us the remaining universe and when we should expect those.

GATES: Yes. So, we're now left with about 275,000 ballots to count, and the lion's share, the overwhelming majority of these remaining votes are early ballots that were dropped off on election day.

BLITZER: And when do you think we'll get the results from those remaining uncounted ballots?

GATES: We will continue in the rhythm that we've now established over the past few days. I would anticipate, again, one ballot drop or you know, one vote update per day in the evening, probably somewhere in this range that we've been somewhere around 60 to 80,000 a day, which would then make us reach completion very early next week.

BLITZER: Very early next week. All right. Thanks very much. Bill Gates.

GATES: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks to you, thanks to all your associates, for the important work that you're doing protecting America's democracy right now. We are grateful to you.

And to our viewers, stay right here. We'll have much more on these latest votes coming in from Nevada. Our election coverage continues after a quick break.


BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, CNN projecting that Democratic Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona has defeated Republican challenger Blake Masters. And after new numbers just released by Arizona election officials, Democrat Katie Hobbs has widened her lead of a Republican Kari Lake in the race for governor there.

Let's turn right now back to Nevada, the state that potentially, potentially could decide Senate control.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is on the scene for us. We've seen this race tightened dramatically tonight, so where is -- where are the votes still outstanding. What's the latest, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're going to tell you where most of the votes are right now. We'll start with Washoe County. That's the swing county that John King was just talking about. There are still 11,000 ballots approximately it would be counted there, as John just said in the recent release of votes, 5,821 for Cortez Masto, 4,691 for Laxalt.

Then in Douglas County, it's in western Nevada. A small county of about 50,000 people. The county, see this Menden. Hello to you in Menden. There are still about 2,000 ballots to be counted there. And the big kahuna right here inside this building. Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas, by far the biggest county in the state.

About 75 percent of the people who live in Nevada live in this county. Right now, there are 23,000 ballots. They expect to count tomorrow. Finish counting those 23,000 ballots, and then an additional 15,000 ballots that are provisional or need to be cured, the deadlines for those are next week.

So, the total in these three counties up to 51,000 ballots still to count, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lots of votes out there still, aren't they? Thanks very much. You know, let's go to David Chalian right now because he's got some behind the scenes information on these numbers. What are you learning?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, well, I mean, well if our numbers of what is outstanding, you just heard Gary tick through it sort of county by county. There's some other vote out there. We estimate beyond the three counties Gary was talking about. The universe we think is approximately 55,000 votes that remain to be counted in Nevada, in statewide. That is the outstanding vote.

So, what does each candidate need to do? Well in a razor-thin race, each candidate needs to do approximately the same thing here. So, Catherine Cortez Masto, who is a tick behind Adam Laxalt right now in the overall statewide vote count, needs 50 to 51 percent of this outstanding vote. That still exists in Nevada.

Adam Laxalt, who has this slight edge in the race needs 49 to 50 percent of the outstanding vote. So, they roughly need about half of the outstanding vote. Obviously, Cortez Masto needs just a bit more than that in order to overtake Laxalt's lead and emerge with a victory here. Wolf?


BLITZER: All right, David, thanks very much. John King is looking at the numbers as well, and Laxalt has a lead of only 821 votes, right now over Catherine Cortez Masto.

KING: Right, and here's his problem. David just laid out about 55,000 outstanding vote. That's an estimate, but you heard the numbers from Gary. Between the ballots they know they have, and then 15,000 or so provisional ballots. Not all of them will make it to the finish line. Those are ballots the lawyers all look. You know, some, maybe somebody showed up at the wrong polling place, but they live nearby. They figure it out and they do it, or they didn't fill something outright.

Both campaigns are there. There's nothing unusual about this. It happens in every campaign. That's how it works. It's how the system works, right? But if you add that up, let me just bring this down here, 23,000 ballots, they know of up to 15,000 provisional ballots. Some of them might be ruled out.

So, 38,000, 38,000 of the estimated 55,000 are here in Clark County, and she's getting 52 percent of the vote so far. Tomorrow's votes doesn't necessarily track yesterday's vote, but you do see we're four days in now. We're four days in, and she is getting 52 percent in Clark County. That has been a consistent number for her.

If -- David just laid out, they pretty much need the same. If she continues to get 52 percent of the vote in Clark County and 38,000 or 30,000 plus of the 50,000 plus are here, that's good odds for her.

What else did Gary say? He said we had a couple more thousand votes up here in Washoe County. Again, this is a much more competitive swing county in the state. You know, if she can break even, she can catch up. She's a little bit ahead right now, a little bit ahead right now in a very tough county.

Again, tomorrow's vote count or tomorrow's release doesn't guarantee anything based on what happened today. But she's running strong enough in this county so far, and this includes votes counted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and now Friday.

So, the question is, you know, do you have a sudden about face, could they be from a more conservative precinct? It's possible, but if you're in a Cortez Masto campaign, you're not too worried about that.

So, the question is here, Gary mentioned this down here. They come down to Douglas County and he mentioned there are additional votes here. It's a smaller county, it's a smaller universe of votes. But what is absolutely key to Adam Laxalt, as you see, he's getting 65 percent of the vote in this county. When those votes from Douglas County come in, now he needs to match or exceed that because he understands right now, he's running a little bit behind in Washoe, he's running more behind in Clark County.

So, in the county's left that are Republican counties, his margins better be big, better be way outside what David just laid out is he needs statewide. Again, because of this. This is where more than 70 percent of the votes will be when we're all done counting and it's where the overwhelming majority of the outstanding ballots are now.

And at the moment, the incumbent senator who trails statewide is running ahead of -- running ahead of what she would need to catch up and pass in Clark County. The question is, will that continue when we count more votes? That's what makes it fascinating.

BLITZER: And he's ahead of by only 821 votes at this moment right now. A few hours ago, he was ahead by some 9,000 votes. She has really narrowed that gap.

Let's get some more on these dramatic new developments in Nevada. Joining us now once again, Elizabeth Thompson, the editor of the Nevada Independent.

Elizabeth, thanks so much for joining us.

From your reporting are we expecting more votes coming in very, very soon?

ELIZABETH THOMPSON, EDITOR, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: I'm sorry to tell everyone that we're not, I don't think we're going to get any more votes tonight. And my team has been madly crunching numbers for the past 10 minutes ever since those Washoe votes posted. And we're just not ready to call this yet.

It's deja vu all over again here. Adam Laxalt was up by about 800 votes earlier. Then that all shifted in the middle of the day, as your viewers know. Now we're back to about an 800-vote differential.

Here's what's going on. She did well in Washoe. She went about 53 percent of this latest data dump, so pretty good. However, based on what we're still expecting to see from the rurals and what we know is outstanding in Clark, we need to see whether she can get 50 percent plus at least 1 percent of the remaining ballots, primarily in Clark and Washoe.

Those two urban counties are so key. It's just too close to call right now or down the wire. I know the whole nation is waiting for an answer. But it can't be called yet.

KING: It can't be called yet, and that's smart. The best thing to do is be conservative and be cautious, especially in this age we live in where people are questioning all the counts.

But Elizabeth, we just got a find, you know, we got a decent installment in Maricopa County, and that was enough for us to project here at CNN that Senator Mark Kelly will win reelection because it is a much more narrow race. We're waiting for more votes in the governor's race. Your governor's race has been called, Governor Sisolak has conceded to

Sheriff Lombardo. When it comes to -- when you're looking at the math here, I'm not saying you do it differently from us, but you're there on the ground. Just getting a sense, you know, it just said there's about 38,000 possible, right, 23,000 votes. They know of 15,000 provisionals. Some of those could be, you know, just ruled out, ruled out of bounds. They're missing something or it doesn't make sense.

But with that universe, what percentage do you think your team think you need to see out Clark County to know if, if Senator Masto gets that 50 or 52 percent that's enough.


THOMPSON: So, this is what we think. Laxalt needs 49 to 50 percent of the outstanding votes to hold and win. Cortez Masto needs 52 to 51 percent of the approximately 55,000 votes that are remaining.

I do want to just add, John, and you did such a great job of running down all the caveats of provisional ballots and what we're waiting on. We've got signature checking as well that is happening on Monday. We've got close to 10,000 ballots with signatures that need to be checked.

So that's going to be in the mix. And if things are too tight in Clark, I hope that's not the case. If things are too tight in Clark tomorrow, we might have to wait for those provisional ballots and that signature checking on Monday. But let's all hope that tomorrow when Clark updates, we'll have our answer.

BLITZER: So, what's your assessment right now, Catherine, on who has the better chance of winning?

THOMPSON It's anybody's guess. I mean, I'm -- I don't love to make his predictions as much as some pundits. I would give a slight edge to Cortez Masto just based on what I know about Clark County and how those votes are likely to fall. And typically, signature checking and provisional ballots percentage wise, if you look at the patterns and trends, they do tend to favor Democrats slightly. That also stands in her favor.

BLITZER: Elizabeth, we also have this question that I'm anxious to get your answer on. Do you think the influential Culinary Union curing ballots is going to have an impact? And for our viewers at home, that means they are involved in a process of fixing mistakes like missing signatures or incorrect dates.

THOMPSON It's possible it could help, and I want to be clear that you're not actually directly involved in the signature checking process. What the Culinary Union volunteers are doing is looking at the ballots that have been set aside for Signature cures. Those are all available, by the way, on this web site called Ballot Tracks.

Anyone in Nevada can go right now and see how their ballot is doing and whether they have a signature that needs to be checked. The Culinary unit is just reaching out to all their contacts. Tracking it against the Ballot Tracks web site and letting people know, hey, your ballot had a signature issue. We want you to just go ahead and get in touch with the registrar's officer or with the secretary of state to get that straightened out.

KING: Elizabeth, I hate to ask this question, but it's the age we live in, so I'm going to ask this question. You already see in Arizona some of the Republicans saying, you know, if there's foul play, when there's absolutely zero evidence of that, just like in 2020.

Your Republican won the races for governor. Your Senate race is 800 votes apart right now, and it's very competitive. Are there any stirrings of that out there? And I just want to make -- so you can make clear for our viewers, I've asked the officials in Arizona repeatedly.

When people are looking at provisional ballots, when people are in the room and they're opening these mail-in ballots and counting them, it's the law Nevada, just like it is everywhere else that Democrats and Republicans have eyes on the process throughout. Right?

THOMPSON: That's correct. Both Democrats and Republicans are observing those processes. Usually not just one of each. Typically, there's two from each side that are observing in addition to an election official. So, you've got no less than five people watching over the provisional ballot processing.

And we're pretty buttoned up here in Nevada. I mean, we have a really great chain of command with voter security. Those ballot boxes are locked away, until they're ready to be counted. And there's a very specific process with a lot of eyeballs involved in that. And no, I'm happy to report actually much to my surprise, there have not been many rumblings, if any, here in Nevada.

Certainly, none by any major candidate or campaign about any kind of voter fraud or any kind of problems with election integrity. And I want to credit the Nevada media and the secretary of state's office and all the registrars and clerks across the state for doing a really great job this past, past month of informing Nevada voters about the process, letting them know what to expect, how many days it might take. And just who would be involved in that. So, so far, so good as far as that goes here.

BLITZER: That's encouraging to hear that. Elizabeth Thompson, the editor of The Nevada Independent, thanks so much for joining us once again. We really appreciate it.

It's been a very dramatic night so far as we all know. We're awaiting new vote counts in the closely watched Nevada Senate race, which could -- which could determine control of the U.S. Senate after Senator Mark Kelly won reelection in Arizona. That's our projection.

Stay right here. We have another projection in the works of the battle for the House. This is election night in America continue.



BLITZER: We're live in Washington where Democrats are now only one seat away from keeping control of the United States Senate after scoring a critical victory in Arizona just minutes ago. Now all eyes are on the vote counting in Nevada where new results were just released in the U.S. Senate race there. A contest that could potentially determine Senate control.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, and this is election Night in America continued.

And what a night it is right now with a new decision in Arizona and new tightening going on right now in Nevada. Arizona Senator Mark Kelly pulling off a critical win for the Democrats just a little while ago, defeating his Republican opponent, the Trump endorsed election denier Blake Masters.