New Senate: 51 Democrats 49 Republicans
News from the Votemaster
Several weeks ago, Sen. John McCain made an intriging remark about what he would do in the event of a Democratic takeover of the Senate. Let's see if the press covers this like Kerry's bad joke of last week.
Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), who was easily re-elected Tuesday, has been diagnosed with leukemia. He is being treated for the disease in a Bethesda, MD, hospital. Should he resign from the Senate or die, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) must appoint his successor from a list of three candidates drawn up by the Wyoming Republican party. Wyoming law ensures that governors of the other party cannot appoint one of their own to replace an opposition senator. Most states do not have such a provision, but Wyoming does.
Yesterday we looked at some key house races. Now let us look at the rest. In MN-05, Keith Ellison won election to the House with 56% of the vote in this heavily Democratic district around Minneapolis. Ellison is the first (black) Moslem member of Congress. His campaign was centered on traditional domestic issues such as raising the minimum wage, rather than on foreign policy. MN-06 saw a bitter catfight between two women who could not be more different: Michele Bachmann is bomb-Iran conservative and Patty Wetterling has been a strong advocate for children ever since her son was kidnapped over a decade ago. Bachmann won this 50% to 42%, with 8% going to a third-party.
In New Hampshire, something amazing happened in both CDs. In NH-01, the Democratic candidate was Carol Shea-Porter, an insurgent who ran as an antiwar candidate in the primary against the party's handpicked don't-rock-the-boat candidate. To everyone's amazement (probably including her own), she won. Nobody gave her a chance in the general election, but she won by 4%. In NH-02 , lawyer Paul Hodes (D, who ran for this seat in 2004 and lost, got his act together, raised much more money, and was swept in on the Democratic tide by 7%.
New Mexico had one close race. NM-01 pitted incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson (R) against state attorney general Patricia Madrid. Wilson tried to stress her independence from George Bush as much as she could, and the mud really flew in this one. Wilson is ahead by under 1000 votes out of 200,000 cast, but it is still up in the air.
New York was prime territory for Democratic pickups. This was not a good year for conservative Republicans in this very blue state. In NY-03 on Long Island, incumbent Peter King (R), withstood a challenge from David Mejias (D) but other Republicans were not so lucky. In the outer NYC suburbs, ethics played a big role sinking Republicans. In NY-19, Sue Kelly (R), a 7-term congresswoman, surprisingly lost to John Hall (D), in part because she was the chair of the House page board. Many of her constituents felt that she didn't do enough to stop pedophile Mark Foley. In NY-20 , four-term congressman John Sweeney (R) lost to Kirsten Gillibrand, a young lawyer known for helping abused women and children. Despite the highly Republican nature of the district, Sweeney was hurt badly by a police report first published in the New York Daily News about his beating his wife and her subsequent call to 911. It is not known whether Sweeney's wife retained Gillibrand to help her. In NY-24 , an open district long-held by a retiring Republican, Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri (D) defeated state senator Ray Meier (R). Meier gained national notoriety for running a TV ad in which he attacked Arcuri for calling a sex line and charging it to the taxpayers. Technically this was true, but the call lasted about 10 seconds when Arcuri realized he had dialed a wrong number and the redialed a number with the same 7 digits but the correct area code. The call cost the taxpayers $1.25. Meier's argument of "Elect me because my opponent once dialed a wrong number" didn't sit well with the voters. On the positive side for Republicans, embattled NRCC chair Tom Reynolds in NY-26 managed to hang onto his job despite Foley problems.
In North Carolina, two races attracted national attention. In NC-08 , an unknown high school teacher with no political experience fought multimillionaire four-term congressman Robin Hayes (R) to a near tie. After the votes were counted, Hayes led by 449 votes, with the provisional votes still to be counted. In NC-11 , former NFL football player Heath Shuler (D) defeated eight-term incumbent Charles Taylor (R) by 8%.
Ohio was also the scene of many battles in the House. In OH-02 , Jean Schmidt, the freshman congresswoman who called 38-year Marine Corps veteran John Murtha a coward, was locked in a tight battle with Victoria Wulsin, a doctor who has worked in Africa treating AIDS patients. Schmidt is ahead by 3000 votes, with the provisional ballots yet to be counted. In OH-15 , Deborah Pryce, the #4 person in the Republican leadership, is also 3000 votes ahead of her opponent, county commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, but here, too, the provisional votes have yet to be tallied. In OH-18 , the seat recently vacated by the disgraced Bob Ney, his handpicked succesor was roundly defeated by Democrat Zack Space.
Another state with numerous battles was Pennsylvania. In PA-06 , incumbent Jim Gerlach (R) was able to stave off a vigorous challenge from Lois Murphy, winning by 2%. In PA-07 , three-star admiral Joe Sestak (D) easily defeated 10-term incumbent Curt Weldon (R), in no small part due to the FBI investigating Weldon and his lobbyist children. In PA-08 , Iraq veteran Pat Murphy (D) defeated incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R) in the Philadephia suburbs. Finally, in PA-10 , four-term congressman Don Sherwood was defeated by a college professor with no political experience, Chris Carney. Stories in the local press about Sherwood choking his mistress of 5 years (a Peruvian immigrant 35-years his junior) until she escaped into the bathroom and called 911 on her cell phone probably didn't help him much.
Texas also had a couple of interesting races. If President Bush doesn't like the new Congress, he can always write to his congressman. Unfortunately, the congressman for TX-17 , which includes Bush's Crawford ranch, is Democrat Chet Edwards, who just won his ninth term over Iraq veteran Van Taylor by a resounding 18%. TX-22 was at the epicenter of a huge battle after Tom DeLay resigned from Congress in disgrace. He tried to get off the ballot so another Republican could replace him by "moving" to Virginia, but the Texas courts didn't buy this. Instead, the Republicans ran a write-in campaign for Houston dermatologist Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, but she lost to former and future Democratic congressman Nick Lampson (D). In TX-23 , nobody got 50% of the vote, so a runoff will be held in a few weeks.
In Virginia, the most-watched race was in VA-02 , a district heavily laden with military bases and military families. Congresswoman Thelma Drake (R) barely hung onto her seat by 2% against revenue commissioner Phil Kellam (D). For an incumbent Republican in a highly military district to barely beat the tax collector is not something to write home about, however.
One race in Washington state is still undecided. In WA-08 , incumbent Dave Reichert (R) is about 3000 votes ahead of former Microsoft manager Darcy Burner, with the provisional ballots yet to be counted.
In Wisconsin, the most followed race was the open seat in WI-08 , vacated by Mark Green (R) who ran for governor and lost. Here physician Steve Kagen (D) narrowly defeated state assembly speaker John Gard (R).
Finally, in Wyoming's at-large congressional seat, the often-abrasive incumbent Barbara Cubin (R) is currently only 700 votes ahead of Jackson Hole businessman Gary Trauner, with the provisional ballots still to be counted.
Projected New House*: 230 Democrats 200 Republicans 5 TiesSee complete House polls.
Dem pickups: AZ-05 AZ-08 CA-11 CO-07 CT-05 FL-16 FL-22 IA-01 IA-02 IN-02 IN-08 IN-09 KS-02 KY-03 MN-01 NC-11 NH-01 NH-02 NY-19 NY-20 NY-24 OH-18 PA-04 PA-07 PA-08 PA-10 TX-22 WI-08
See the details of the Senate and House races with photos, maps, links, polls, etc.
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-- The Votemaster