Midterm Elections

Election Day 2010: GOP wins House, Democrats retain Senate

Republicans, tapping into widespread anger over the ailing economy and disappointment with President Obama's leadership, wrested control of the House of Representatives from Democrats in Tuesday's midterm elections, but fell just short of winning the Senate.

"We are witnessing a repudiation of Washington, of big government ... and politicians who refuse to listen to the American people," said Republican minority leader John Boehner, of Ohio, who is poised to succeed Nancy Pelosi, of California, as speaker of the House.

His voice choking with emotions, Boehner told an exuberant crowd of supporters that it was "not a time for celebration, but a time to roll up our sleeves and go to work."

The Ohio Republican said voters had spoken loudly and that President Obama should listen.

"The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight: 'Change course.' "

But Boehner also had a message for his own troops, saying it was not a time to celebrate "when our Congress is held in such low esteem."

In the first gesture of a switch to divided government, Obama called Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, shortly after midnight, saying that he was "looking forward to working with him and the Republicans to find common ground, move the country forward, and get things done for the American people," according to a White House statement.

Boehner's office said in a statement that Obama and the Republican leader had a "brief but pleasant conversation."

"Leader Boehner said he's always been straightforward and honest with the president in the past, and said that's the way he'll continue to be with the president in the future," the statement said. "They discussed working together to focus on the top priorities of the American people, which Boehner has identified as creating jobs and cutting spending."

Boehner's brief remarks to his supporters came as Republicans continued to roll ever larger margins across the country.

That tide swept aside a huge roster of veteran Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Ike Skelton, who has held his Missouri seat for 33 years, and three-term senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

But in a fitting finale in the scrappy contest for control of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid held onto his Democratic seat in Nevada, defeating Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle in one of the ugliest contests of the midterm elections.

"Today Nevada chose hope over fear," Reid told supporters at a Las Vegas rally late Tuesday. "Nevada chose to move forward, not backward."

Among the first to fall were such vulnerable Democrats as Baron Hill in Indiana, Alan Grayson, of Florida, and Chet Edwards of Texas, as well as Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher, both of Virginia.

The GOP needed to pick up 39 new seats to oust the Democrats from the House leadership, and appeared well on their way to taking more than 50 — and perhaps as many as 70 — before the final count was in.

Tea Party Republicans claimed some major victories, winning senate seats in Kentucky, Florida, New Hampshire and Nevada, while losing a high-profile contest in Delaware.

"Tonight there's a Tea Party tidal wave," Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist and political newcomer, told cheering supporters in Kentucky.

The Republicans, though, were fell tantalizingly short of taking back the Senate after losing a key race in West Virginia where Democratic governor Joe Manchin fended off a challenge from GOP businessman John Raese by distancing himself from Obama.

Still, the Republicans, who needed to pick up 10 seats to take control of the chamber, picked off Democratic-held seats in North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

With both parties on course to each control one of the two chambers, the stage is set for confrontation in a more polarized Congress and an unpredictable re-election campaign for Obama in 2012.

In surveys of voters as they left polling places Tuesday sponsored by the TV networks and the Associated Press, two-thirds of Democratic supporters said the government needs to do more to address issues facing the nation. Eight in 10 Republicans said the government needs to do less.

Six in 10 Democratic voters called for the health care law, which sets new regulations for insurance companies and requires most Americans to buy coverage, to be expanded to cover more people. Eight in 10 Republicans wanted it repealed.

Marco Rubio, a Republican who took on his party's establishment as a Tea Party favorite in Florida, warned his party not to squander the victory.

"We make a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican party," Rubio told supporters at a rally, referring to his and other GOP wins around the country. "What they are is a second chance, a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago."

The insurgent Tea Party lost a high-profile contest in Delaware where Democrat Chris Coons easily defeated newcomer Christine O'Donnell.

Coons, who takes the seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden, won easily against O'Donnell, who drew national attention for having been quoted as saying she once dabbled in witchcraft.

"I'm honored and humbled by the confidence expressed by the voters of Delaware today, but now the hard work begins," Coons told The Associated Press. "I've said all along that this campaign is about Delaware's families and the challenges they face. Our job now is to see that Washington's focus is on jobs and getting our country back on track."

O'Donnell, backed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, had won an upset victory in the Republican primary against Rep. Mike Castle.

In another high profile Senate race, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal beat Republican Linda McMahon, a former wrestling executive, for the seat held by retiring Democratic senator Chris Dodd.

In Arkansas, five-term congressman John Boozman beat two-term senator Blanche Lincoln. Former Republican senator Dan Coats won another trip to the Senate, taking the seat held by Democrat Evan Bayh. Republican governor John Hoeven easily won the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan. Republican Ron Johnson defeated Feingold in Wisconsin.

Mark Kirk, a five-term Republican congressman from Chicago's suburbs, beat Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias to take the seat once held by Obama.

In Pennsylvania, Republican congressman Pat Toomey won the Senate seat held by Arlen Specter, who had switched from the Republican to Democratic party only to lose in the Democratic primary to Rep. Joe Sestak. Toomey defeated Sestak Tuesday.

The Tea Party wins in Kentucky, Florida, New Hampshire and Utah all came in races held by retiring Republicans, but nonetheless marked a major shift in conservative quarters.

Paul, the son of libertarian Republican congressman Ron Paul, beat Democratic attorney general Jack Conway for the Senate seat held by retiring senator Jim Bunning.

Paul had defied the state party establishment by winning the GOP primary, defeating Minority Leader McConnell's hand-picked candidate. That victory also established Paul early as a hero of the Tea Party forces.

In Florida, Rubio defeated Gov. Charlie Crist, who pulled out of the GOP primary to run as an independent, and Democratic congressman Kendrick Meek, in a three-way race.

In New Hampshire, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, another Tea Party candidate backed by Palin, defeated Democratic congressman Paul Hodes. Mike Lee won after ousting four-term Republican senator Bob Bennett.

In a handful of other states, Tea Party-backed Republicans who upset establishment candidates in their primaries also faced final tests: Ken Buck in Colorado, and Joe Miller in Alaska.

In other early Senate races, Republican Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, and Democrats Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, and Barbara Mikulski, of Maryland, won re-election in largely uncontested races.

Rob Portman, a former Republican congressman, won in Ohio, filling the seat of retiring Republican senator George Voinovich.

As voters streamed to the polls Tuesday, Republicans framed the off-year elections as a referendum on President Obama's record and Democrats viewed as a choice between staying the course or returning to the policies of the Bush years.

At stake were all 435 House seats and 37 Senate seats, along with 37 governors' races, state and local contests and scores of referendums across the nation, including a proposition in California to legalize marijuana.

Obama spent most of Election Day in the White House giving a series of radio interviews in an effort to energize Democratic supporters. "There are dire consequences to this election. It's not just an abstraction," Obama said on Chicago radio station WVON, two hours before the 8 p.m. ET deadline to vote in his home state of Illinois.

In the lead up to today's elections, Republicans assailed Democrats as the tax-and-spend party of big government. They pledged to cut taxes and federal spending in hopes of revitalizing the economy and reining in deficits.

Democrats argued that the GOP's true agenda is to privatize Social Security and Medicare while slashing other programs.

Some of the biggest states were electing governors, including California, where Democrat Jerry Brown defeated Meg Whitman to return to the office he left more than a quarter-century ago. In New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo won the office his father held for a dozen years.

In one of the year's marquee races, former Republican representative John Kasich, of Ohio, defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

In California, voters rejected a proposition to legalize marijuana.

(Published by USA Today - November 3, 2010)

latest top stories

subscribe |  contact us |  sponsors |  migalhas in portuguese |  migalhas latinoamérica