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Incumbent senators re-elected in Vermont, South Carolina, Kentucky

South Carolina Republican Senate candidate Sen. Tim Scott talks on the phone at Hanahan Fire Station #3 as he waits in line to vote in Hanahan, S.C., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Scott waited about an hour in line to vote. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

WASHINGTON (AP/TheBlaze) Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy has won an eighth term. He's the Senate's longest-serving member. The 76-year-old beat back a challenge from Republican businessman Scott Milne.

Leahy was first elected in 1974 from the liberal state. He's the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will likely chair the panel if Democrats reclaim the majority.

He says he hopes "reasonable" Republicans in the Senate will agree to perform their constitutional duty of advice and consent on judicial nominees, including the Supreme Court.

Two more key senate races were called within moments of Leahy's victory.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, the South's first black senator since Reconstruction, has won his first full term and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who made an early run for the presidency, instead is heading back to Washington for a second term.

Scott defeated Democrat Thomas Dixon, a community activist and pastor, while Paul defeated Democrat Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington.

Scott, 51, was appointed to the seat in 2013 following the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, then won election to the final two years of that term.

The Senate's only black Republican, Scott said he would vote for Donald Trump, even as he has characterized some of Trump's statements and actions as "disgusting," ''indefensible" and "racially toxic."

Scott, who is one of only two black senators, said on the Senate floor this summer that he has repeatedly been pulled over by law enforcement and was once even stopped by a Capitol Police officer who apparently did not believe he was a senator.

Paul repeatedly clashed with Donald Trump during the GOP primary debates. He later endorsed Trump but spoke little about him while campaigning for re-election in Kentucky.

The candidates spent a combined $8 million on the race, a paltry sum considering the more than $47 million Kentucky's Senate candidates spent in 2014. The Senate race has been overshadowed by the presidential race and the battle for the state House of Representatives - the only legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats.

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