Republicans took control of the House and made gains in the Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, just four years after Democrats swept control of Congress. With 13 races yet to be called, Republicans gained 59 seats in the House, the party’s largest win in congressional elections in more than a century. Analysts expect Democrats to maintain control of the Senate, but two key races have not yet been called: Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet vs. Republican Ken Buck in Colorado and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray vs. Republican Dino Rossi in Washington State. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Republicans took control of the House and made gains in the Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, just four years after Democrats swept control of Congress. With thirteen races yet to be called, Republicans gained fifty-nine seats in the House, the party’s largest win in congressional elections in more than a century. Analysts expect Democrats to maintain control of the Senate, but two key races have not yet been 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 holds a slim lead over Republican challenger Dino Rossi.
In the most closely watched Senate race, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada narrowly defeated tea party Republican Sharron Angle. Reid gave his victory speech in Las Vegas.
SEN. HARRY REID: Today you made possible what many called impossible, and I’m grateful you did, not for me, but for the future we all share as Nevadans. I’m not finished fighting. In fact, tonight I’m more determined than ever. You see, I’ve been in some pretty tough fights in my day. They’ve been in the street and in a boxing ring, and they’ve been in the United States Senate. But I have to admit, this has been one of the toughest. But it’s nothing compared to the fights families are facing all over Nevada right now. This race has been called, but the fight is far from over. The bell that just rang isn’t the end of the fight; it’s the start of the next round.
AMY GOODMAN: The tea party movement captured two important Senate seats: in Florida, Marco Rubio won a three-way race against Democratic Congress member Kendrick Meek and Independent Governor Charlie Crist, and in Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul beat Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway. Rand Paul spoke at an early evening victory rally.
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. They say that the US Senate is the world’s most deliberative body. Well, I’m going to ask them to deliberate upon this. 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. I will ask them respectfully to deliberate upon this: America will remain great, if we remain proud of America, if we remain proud of the American system, the system that is enshrined in our founding documents, the system that protects and promotes the free exchange of goods, the system that protects capitalism, that has made this country great. Thomas Jefferson wrote that government is best that governs least. Likewise, freedom is best when enjoyed by the most. America — America can rise up and surmount these problems, if we just get government out of our way.
AMY GOODMAN: Republicans also won a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, where Republican Congress member Pat Toomey defeated Democratic Representative Joe Sestak. And in Wisconsin, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold lost to Republican businessman Ron Johnson. Feingold gave his concession speech in Middleton.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: First, to all my supporters over the years, no one has ever had such a strong foundation. It gave me my backbone. You gave me my backbone. So, so, so, to all of you, in the words of who else, Bob Dylan, “But my heart is not weary, it’s light and free. I’ve got nothing but affection for those who have sailed with me.” I hope — I hope, and I intend, to continue to work with all of you in the future as much as possible. So, it’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure forward!
AMY GOODMAN: The GOP did lose some key Senate races. In West Virginia, Governor Joe Manchin defeated Republican businessman John Raese to fill the seat held for half a century by the late Senator Robert Byrd. In Connecticut, Republican Linda McMahon lost her Senate race against Democratic state attorney general Richard Blumenthal, despite spending about $50 million of her own money. And in Delaware, Democrat Chris Coons defeated tea party Republican Christine O’Donnell. O’Donnell began her concession speech saying, “We have won,” before conceding defeat.
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: There’s a lot of to be done, a lot of work to be done. As I’ve said, this whole campaign is about putting the political process back into your hands. And that is where it is now. The leadership of our party is going to be drastically different this next year. The leadership in Delaware will be drastically different from now on. Our elected officials will be held accountable by their constituents, like it or not. So, although the outcome isn’t what we all worked so hard for, our voice was heard, will continue to be heard. So I hope and pray that you are as encouraged as I am.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, in the House, Republicans found victory in most areas of the country, picking up at least three seats in Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Longtime Democratic incumbents were among those to lose their seats. Fourteen-term incumbent John Spratt, Jr., a South Carolina Democrat and the chair of the House Budget Committee, was defeated. Meanwhile, seventeen-term Missouri Congress member Ike Skelton, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, also lost his seat, as did ten-term Texas Democrat Chet Edwards. Freshman Democrats Tom Perriello of Virginia, John Boccieri of Ohio and Alan Grayson of Florida were also defeated. However, Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, held on to his seat.
Ohio Republican John Boehner, who’s now poised to become the next House Speaker, gave a victory speech, which ended with him choking back tears.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER: I’m here to tell you tonight that our new majority will prepare to do things differently, to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried in Washington before by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it, reducing the size of government instead of increasing it, and reforming the way Congress works and giving the government back to the American people. And for all those families who were asking, “Where are the jobs?” it means ending the uncertainty in our economy and helping small businesses get back to work. The people’s priorities will be our priorities, and the people’s agenda will be our agenda. This is our pledge to America, and this is our pledge to you. 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. And we can celebrate when we have a government that has earned the trust.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama called Boehner last night once it was clear the House had fallen to the Republicans. According to the White House, the President said he looked forward to working with Republicans to find common ground, move the country forward, and get things done for the American people. Obama will hold a news conference today at 1:00 PM Eastern time.
Meanwhile, in governors’ races last night, Republicans picked up nine state houses, and Democrats picked up one: in California, where former governor Jerry Brown beat former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.