Former Sen. Russ Feingold defeated in bid to reclaim seat in Wisconsin, other key Senate races decided

Marcy Oster

Russ Feingold Ron Johnson

Russ Feingold, left, failed in his attempt to take his Wisconsin senate seat back from Ron Johnson, right. (Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Former Democratic Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold failed in his bid to reclaim his seat in a race that had been projected to go his way.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson received 51.8 percent of the vote to Feingold’s 45.5 percent.

Feingold called Johnson shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday to concede.

“I’m sorry we didn’t get the job done,” he said in a concession speech to supporters, the Wisconsin Star-Tribune reported.

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“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 popular three-term senator swept aside in 2010 by Johnson, a Tea Party candidate.

Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. 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.

Feingold was endorsed by the J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy lobby, which injected $250,000 into the race in recent weeks.

Wisconsin appeared early Wednesday morning to be headed to give its 10 electoral votes to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R, was re-elected to his seat with some 52 percent of the vote to 44 percent for challenger, two-time Congressman 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.

Democratic Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth defeated sitting Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, to retake 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.

In Georgia, Republican incumbent Sen. Jonny Isakson defeated challenger Jim Barksdale, a Democratic multimillionaire who is far left on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The state of Georgia went for Trump.

Pennsylvania’s Republican incumbent in the Senate, Pat Toomey, kept his seat, defeating a spirited campaign against Democratic challenger Katie McGinty.

Toomey opposed the Iran nuclear deal. 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 $500,000 in an attempt to unseat Toomey and Feingold in Wisconsin. The Associated Press called the state of Pennsylvania for Donald Trump at nearly 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

With three-quarters of the votes counted, Trump was ahead of Clinton by some 4 percent.