Liberal favorite Russ Feingold, a former Democratic Wisconsin Senator, and Mark Kirk, a leading critic of the Iran deal, both fell short on Election Day.
Feingold was upset in his bid to reclaim his seat, losing to the incumbent, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who received 51.8 percent of the vote to Feingold’s 45.5%. Feingold called Johnson shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday to concede.
“I’m sorry we didn’t get the job done,” he told supporters in his concession speech, the Wisconsin Star-Tribune reported.
“Obviously something is happening in this country tonight. I don’t understand it completely. I don’t think anybody does,” Feingold said, adding: “This could be one of the most challenging times in the history of our country.”
Feingold was a three-term senator swept aside in 2010 by Johnson, a Tea Party candidate.
Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine all came to Wisconsin in the final week of the race to campaign for Feingold and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Wisconsin appeared early Wednesday morning to be headed to give its 10 electoral votes to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Feingold was endorsed by J Street, a liberal Jewish Middle East policy lobby. J Street injected $500,000 to boost Feingold and Democratic Representative Tammy Duckworth’s successful bid to unseat Kirk.
With her win, Duckworth retook the seat that had been held by President Barack Obama.
Kirk was among the most strident critics of the Iran nuclear deal exchanging sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback since it was reached last year. Duckworth, who was backed by J Street with more than $145,000, has been an enthusiastic backer of the agreement.
The state of Illinois gave its 20 electoral votes to Clinton.
Two other Republican incumbents who criticized the Iran deal did win, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Toomey kept his seat, fending off a spirited challenge from Democratic challenger Katie McGinty. The Republican Jewish Coalition conducted a campaign attacking McGinty in the tight Senate race for her “dangerously naive” support of the Iran nuclear deal. J Street spent nearly $250,000 in an attempt to unseat Toomey.
The Associated Press called the state of Pennsylvania for Donald Trump at nearly 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
In Florida, Rubio was re-elected to his seat with some 52% of the vote to 44% for challenger, two-time Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy. The state of Florida’s 29 electoral votes went to Trump.
Rubio, who entered the race in June after saying he would not run for reelection, has backed an array of pro-Israel initiatives in Congress. Most recently, he would not sign on to a letter circulated by AIPAC calling on Obama to refrain from lame duck pressure on Israel because it explicitly called for a two-state solution, a position that the right-wing pro-Israel community has been pressuring the Republicans to play down. Right-wing pro-Israel activists hope his reelection will herald a bid for the presidency in 2020.
In Georgia, Republican incumbent Senator Jonny Isakson defeated challenger Jim Barksdale, a Democratic multimillionaire who toured the West Bank in 2010 with Interfaith Peace Builders, a group that has ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. The state of Georgia went for Trump.
In Missouri, incumbent Republican Senator Roy Blunt won with 49.4% of the vote to 46.2% for Democratic challenger Jason Kander, 35, a Jewish military veteran who served in Afghanistan.