Republicans have regained control of the House but failed to overtake Democrats in the Senate. With thirteen races yet to be called, Republicans gained fifty-nine House seats, the party’s largest win in congressional elections in more than a century. Despite losing six seats in the Senate, analysts expect Democrats to maintain control of the chamber with two key races yet to be called. In Colorado, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck are within a few thousand votes of each other with provisional and write-in ballots still to be counted. And in Washington, incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray is neck and neck with Republican challenger Dino Rossi.
Among the incumbent Democrats to lose their seats was one of Congress’s most progressive members, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Feingold lost his re-election bid to millionaire Republican Ron Johnson, who poured over $10 million of his own fortune into the campaign. Meanwhile, in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held off a stiff challenge from tea party Republican Sharron Angle. In California, Senator Barbara Boxer held on to her seat with a win over former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Democrat Chris Coons beat out tea party Republican Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, while West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin defeated Republican John Raese. In Connecticut, the state’s attorney general Richard Blumenthal defeated Republican Linda McMahon to keep the seat of outgoing Senator Christopher Dodd in the Democratic column. McMahon spent over $40 million of her own fortune on the campaign.
Despite losing in Delaware and Nevada, the tea party movement received a boost with the Senate victories of Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida. In his acceptance speech, Paul said he is part of a “tea party tidal wave” overtaking Washington.
Rand Paul: “I have a message, a message from the people of Kentucky, a message — a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: we’ve come to take our government back. The American people are unhappy with what’s going on in Washington. Eleven percent of the people approve of what’s going on in Congress. But tonight there’s a tea party tidal wave, and we’re sending a message to them.”
Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio is expected to become the next House Speaker when the new Congress is sworn in next year. Boehner vowed to supporters he would attempt to roll back President Obama’s legislative agenda.
Rep. John Boehner: “While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people’s House, we must remember it’s the president who sets the agenda for our government. The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight, and that message is: change course.”
Republicans also gained in gubernatorial races, picking up ten governorships from the Democrats. In one of the most closely watched races, Democrat Jerry Brown was elected in California over Republican Meg Whitman. Brown served two terms as California’s governor over twenty-five years ago. The Whitman campaign spent over $160 million for the failed bid. Meanwhile, in New York Andrew Cuomo easily defeated tea party-backed candidate Carl Paladino.
Voters also decided on 160 ballot initiatives nationwide. Two of the most closely watched measures were in California. Voters there defeated Prop 19, which would have legalized recreational marijuana use. In a rebuke of major oil companies, voters rejected Prop 23, a measure that would have suspended implementation of the state’s 2006 groundbreaking clean air legislation that requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. South Dakota also rejected a measure to legalize medical marijuana. Meanwhile, Oklahoma voters approved measures to ban the use of international law in state courts and allow opt-outs from President Obama’s healthcare reform bill.
In Iraq, at least seventy-six people have been killed and over 200 wounded in a series of bombings across Baghdad. The blasts primarily hit Shiite neighborhoods and came just hours after a memorial service was held for the fifty-eight people killed in Sunday’s attack on a Baghdad church.
Newly disclosed documents show most of the oil giant BP’s massive pipeline system in Alaska is corroded and in danger of rupturing. According to the investigative website ProPublica, an internal BP investigation gave an “F” grade to at least 148 of the company’s pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope. That means more than 80 percent of the pipe wall is corroded, raising the risk of explosions or spills of toxic substances. Oil workers interviewed by ProPublica also report tanks holding waste are nearing collapse, turbines pumping oil and gas are aging, and warning systems for fires and gas leaks are unreliable.
A newly released study meanwhile shows the BP oil spill quickly spread dangerous toxic chemicals at levels dangerous enough to kill off sea life in the Gulf of Mexico. In findings published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers said chemicals were found as deep as 3,300 feet and as far away as eight miles in May, just weeks after the spill began. The study says the chemicals likely spread even wider in the ensuing months.
And former President George W. Bush is claiming he considered replacing Vice President Dick Cheney before the 2004 election. In his forthcoming memoir, Bush writes that Cheney offered to step down to avoid being a political liability for Bush’s re-election bid. Bush also reveals that he thinks the worst incident of his presidency was when the musician Kanye West said he “doesn’t care about black people” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Bush writes, “I didn’t like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all-time low.” Addressing his legacy, Bush also writes, “Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t be around to hear it.”