Nov 08 2012

Democrats Win Big in Senate; Republicans Retain House Via Redistricting

Congressional races concluded on Election Day reflecting the nation’s political divide in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Thirty three of the 100 Senate seats were up for grabs. As of now Democrats have 53 seats in the Senate, while Republicans have 45 seats. In House races, Democrats were able to gain 6 seats with a new total of 192. Republicans retained their control of the House with a total of 233 seats. In fact, they lost only one House seat from their 2010 total.

Progressive favorite Elizabeth Warren beat out Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, returning a Democrat to the seat long held by Edward Kennedy. Tim Kaine was able to best George Allen in the Virginia Senate race that broke spending records, topping $80 million.

Controversial conservative Senators Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana were both defeated after making comments about abortion and rape; Mourdock’s seat was won by Democrat Joe Donnelly while Akin lost to Claire McCaskill. Also in the Senate, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay Senator, and Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono became the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate. North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, who was considered a long shot, won a tight race on Tuesday defeating Republican Rick Berg. Women overall made major gains in the Senate, now comprising nearly a record 20% in the chamber.

Independent Senate candidate Angus King won a contested seat in Maine, joining Bernie Sanders to become one of only two Independents in the Senate.

In the House of Representatives, Tammy Duckworth defeated Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh by 55 percent. Walsh was criticized for remarking that abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat. Meanwhile Tea Party member Michelle Bachmann was able to slimly retain her seat in Minnesota. More than ten race House races remain too close to call including several in California, and some appear headed for a recount.

GUEST: John Nichols, associate editor of the Capitol Times in Madison, Wisconsin and a correspondent for The Nation magazine, contributing writer for The Progressive, co-founder of Free Press, author of many books including his latest called Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street

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