Nov 4, 2014 11:44 PM
Hot races, high stakes on big night for GOP
The Associated Press
Republicans rolled up the string of victories they needed Tuesday night to seize control the Senate, the biggest prize in the midterm elections. North Carolina put them over the top.
This, while seeing two vulnerable GOP governors defeat their challengers in marquee races in Wisconsin and Florida and building an even stronger majority in the House.
Altogether, Republicans needed to gain six seats to win back the Senate majority they lost in 2006. They swiftly achieved that, and more.
In West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, Republicans switched open seats that had been held by Democrats to their column. Then they added Arkansas, where incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor lost a closely fought race.
Colorado made it five pickups, as Democratic incumbent Mark Udall lost to Rep. Cory Gardner.
Meantime Democrats' push for a turnover in Kentucky failed when GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell won re-election in his closely watched race. And their hopes of seeing an independent defeat Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas one possible path to keeping Democrats in charge of the Senate came to nothing.
Then came North Carolina, the most expensive Senate race in the nation. Republican Thom Tillis beat Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan to clinch Senate control for the GOP.
Iowa made it a gain of seven seats as Republican Joni Ernst beat Democrat Bruce Braley.
Democrats entered the night with a 53-45 Senate majority, plus two independents who usually have supported them.
Outstanding races held further possibilities for the GOP, Alaska and Louisiana among them. They failed in New Hampshire, where Democrat Jeanne Shaheen held off a high-profile challenge from Republican Scott Brown.
Democrats had hoped to see Republicans defeated in Georgia as well as Kansas but the GOP held on.
IN THE PEOPLE'S HOUSE
Republicans won a commanding majority, pushing their dominance to near-historic levels. They defeated the last white Democrats in the South and penetrated Democratic strongholds nationwide.
The GOP, going into the election with a 234-201 majority, was on track to match or surpass the party held during Democratic President Harry Truman's administration more than 60 years ago.
They gained 10 seats and counting; Democrats just one.
Republicans claimed three Democratic seats in New York, upending six-term Rep. Tim Bishop on Long Island and Dan Maffei in the Syracuse area while winning an open seat upstate. The results were a blow to Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
AT THE STATEHOUSE
The GOP defended 22 governor's seats, Democrats 14.
A half-dozen Republican governors who swept into office, some with tea party support, in 2010 faced fierce challenges in the campaign.
Among them: GOP Gov. Sam Brownback in solidly Republican Kansas. But another, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, on the ballot for the third time in four years, defeated Democratic challenger Mary Burke. That cleared a huge hurdle for Walker as he prepares for a possible run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Democrats and their labor allies had salivated at the prospect of defeating the governor who effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers in the state after his election in 2010.
In Florida, GOP Gov. Rick Scott also held on to office in the nation's biggest swing state despite a strong challenge from Democrat Charlie Crist, a former GOP governor who changed parties to run for his old job.
But in Pennsylvania, GOP Gov. Tom Corbett fell to Democrat Tom Wolf.
Several Democrats entered the day struggling to win election, most notably in reliably blue New England.
Voters experienced sporadic glitches but there were no immediate signs of anything serious enough to affect the outcome of an election.
Virginia officials reported problems with 32 machines that prevented voters from immediately casting accurate ballots. A Georgia website designed to help voters locate polling places directed many users instead to an error messages. A Connecticut judge ordered two polling places in Hartford to stay open a half hour late.
Crist's campaign for Florida governor filed a motion to extend voting by two hours in Broward County. It was denied.
Americans historically vote in lower numbers in midterm elections than when motivated by a presidential race.
Both parties used sophisticated methods to find and recruit voters from the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Democrats had the most at stake, since their voters are more likely to drop off in a midterm.
There were signs the strategy was working. More than 20 million people in 35 states had voted in advance, either in person or by mail, according to figures compiled as of early afternoon Tuesday.
MORE RACES TO WATCH
In Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican Thomas Foley are in rematch of their 2010 race, which Malloy won by fewer than 6,500 votes.
In Colorado: Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Bob Beauprez were in a tight race going into Election Day.
ALSO ON THE BALLOT
Among nearly 150 ballot measures being decided Tuesday: legalization of recreational marijuana use in Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Oregon. Anti-abortion measures in Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee. Labeling requirements for certain genetically modified foods in Colorado and Oregon.
Associated Press writers Kimberly Hefling, Nedra Pickler and Eric Tucker contributed to this story.