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Washington, Colorado, Alaska Senate races: When will we know who won?

The Colorado, Washington State, and Alaska Senate races are undecided on Wednesday morning. They won't tip the balance of power in the Senate, but two are important to Democrats.

By Staff writer / November 3, 2010

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska encourages supporters on Nov. 2 with election returns showing her write-in campaign was promising.

Michael Dinneen/AP

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As Tuesday night drew on toward Wednesday morning, three US Senate races – Colorado, Washington State, and Alaska – remained way too close to call.

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Will they be determined before the sun goes down again? Not necessarily. Recounts loom in at least two states, which could last weeks, and both parties are lawyered up for the legal battles that might ensue.

These three nail-biters won't determine which party controls the Senate. With outcomes elsewhere already known, Democrats will remain the majority party there, although by a slimmer margin. But just how slim remains to be seen, and on a night when Democrats took the worst midterm shellacking in the House of Representatives since 1946, they're hoping for just a bit of good news.

Here's where things stand:

Colorado. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck are within just a few thousand votes of each other, with more than 1.4 million ballots tallied and thousands of provisional and write-in ballots yet to be counted.

If the margin remains this slim, state law calls for an automatic recount, which wouldn't take place until after Thanksgiving. At time of writing, Mr. Bennet was leading by less than 9,000 votes.

Colorado will get a new elected senator in any case. Bennet was appointed to the seat last year when Ken Salazar left to become Interior secretary in the Obama administration. Buck is a state prosecutor and is favored by the tea party.

According to the watchdog group Sunlight Foundation, the contest drew more outside money (nearly $33 million) than any other Senate race.

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