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- Senator's Refusal to Resign Changed South Dakota Politics
Posts in "Senate 2012"
November 7, 2012
Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) led by 4 points in his bid for re-election with two-thirds of precincts fully reporting early Wednesday morning, but enough votes remained outstanding that the race was too close to call.
Tester led with 49 percent, while his Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg, had 45 percent. Libertarian candidate Dan Cox appeared to be giving Tester a significant boost by taking more than 6 percent of the vote. Full story
Sen. Dean Heller (R) was able to overcome President Barack Obama’s Nevada coattails and defeat Rep. Shelley Berkley (D).
The Associated Press called the race around 4 a.m., with Heller leading by about 1 point.
The Silver State race is one of the few disappointments for Democrats on the Senate map this year. It was expected that Obama would have to carry the state by a large margin for Berkley to win. He won by more than 6 points, but it was not enough for Berkley.
Heller, who was appointed to the Senate last year, was thought to be especially vulnerable because he voted for Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget blueprint as both a Member of the House and Senate.
Former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) held a slim lead over her opponent, Rep. Rick Berg (R), in the race for North Dakota’s open Senate seat.
Heitkamp led Berg by about 3,500 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Not so fast. Berg’s team announced early Wednesday morning that he wants to wait until the vote canvass finishes next week.
“This is a very close election, which is why North Dakota has a process in place to properly count each ballot and officially certify the result,” Berg spokesman Chris Van Guilder wrote in a press release. “This canvassing process will certify the election and provide an official result. The Berg for Senate campaign will await the results of the canvassing process before making any other announcements regarding the status of the election.”
A Heitkamp spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Nonetheless, the count might not end after the canvass. According to North Dakota election law, there’s an automatic recount if the apparent victor wins by less than 0.5 percent of his or her vote total.
It gets even more complicated. North Dakota is the only state without voter registration, so it’s ripe for legal complaints in a tight race such as this one.
Democrat Tammy Baldwin made history tonight, winning in Wisconsin to become the first openly gay candidate elected to the Senate.
In one of the most expensive and bruising races in the country, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), the establishment favorite who narrowly won a four-way August primary.
Baldwin was able to ride the coattails of President Barack Obama, who won the Badger State, after mounting an extraordinarily effective media strategy that turned the tables on Thompson early in the general election. Her team was able to take Thompson’s high statewide name recognition and popularity and flip it on its head. She spent millions of dollars to paint the former Health and Human Services secretary as an out-of-touch Washington lobbyist who was “no longer for” Wisconsin.
Both Thompson and Baldwin were more unpopular with Wisconsin voters than they were popular in the closing days of the race, but clearly Badger State voters decided the Republican’s branding of Baldwin as “too extreme” was less damaging than the Democrat’s attack of Thompson.
“We nominated more women candidates than ever. We placed confidence every day and we never let up and now Joe Donnelly and Tammy Baldwin and Tim Kaine … they’re all coming to join us in the Senate,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) told a ballroom of supporters, well before the Wisconsin race was even called.
Two Congressmen from different parties are moving up to the Senate.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R) is set to represent Arizona in the Senate, while Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) is set to be New Mexico’s newest Senator, according to an Associated Press projection.
In Arizona, Flake was up over his Democratic rival, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), by more than 6 percent with 63 percent of precincts reporting. In New Mexico, Heinrich was up more than 6 points over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) with 66 percent of precincts reporting.
In a packed ballroom of a Capitol Hill hotel, a gleeful Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) addressed cheering supporters in celebration of a political reality few thought likely two years ago: He is still the No. 1 leader in the Senate.
Reid took the stage here at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel just minutes after both CNN and NBC News called the presidential race for Barack Obama and seconds after Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), who pumped her fists in the air and waved.
Murray took the job no one wanted: defending 23 Democratic-held seats. With the assist of gaffe-prone Republican candidates in key races, the Washington Democrat succeeded and it could pay huge dividends for her future within the caucus.
“Whenever there’s been something that’s hard to do, we [look] to Patty. And she delivers,” Reid said to cheers. “I am so satisfied, proud, elated and feel so, so much in debt to Patty Murray, with her many … responsibilities.
“There is no one who has ever done a better job of running the [Democratic] Senatorial Campaign Committee than Patty Murray.”
Murray touted the success of Democratic women especially in maintaining the party’s majority in the Senate. Though the Associated Press had not called the race yet, Murray said that Democratic candidate and Rep. Tammy Baldwin had defeated Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson.
“Harry Reid, I am proud to tell you, you will be Majority Leader!” Murray yelled to the crowd.
Reid also took a less-than-subtle jab at Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), opening his remarks with a taunt, claiming that this result was what happens when one party says its No. 1 goal is defeating the president.
There are still several races that are too close to call, but several Democratic aides circulated through the press room at the hotel touting exit polls in Nevada that indicated the Hispanic vote was even greater this year than it was in 2010, when Reid eked out a victory over tea-party-backed Sharron Angle. Operatives were keeping information on the tight Montana Senate race between incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) and challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) close to the vest.
November 6, 2012
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), a crafty politician and tireless campaigner, won re-election tonight, beating Republican Rep. Todd Akin.
Akin’s candidacy, despite being a Republican in a red state, was irrevocably harmed when he told a local TV host that the “legitimate rape” of a woman rarely leads to pregnancy.
With 39 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press had McCaskill with 51 percent of the vote to Akin’s 42 percent.
McCaskill is widely credited with helping Akin win a competitive primary by airing “attack” ads against him that actually boosted him among the conservative GOP electorate. Akin made his harmful comments about rape after his primary win.
Lightning didn’t strike twice in Massachusetts for Sen. Scott Brown (R).
The Associated Press called the race for Elizabeth Warren (D), a Harvard University professor, consumer advocate and first-time political candidate, around 10 p.m. She had 53 percent of votes to Brown’s 47 percent, with 47 percent of precincts reporting.
The Bay State’s junior Senator won an improbable special election victory in January 2010 that shocked the political world. The results this evening, in deep-blue Massachusetts, proved decidedly less of a jolt. Full story
Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) has defeated state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) tonight, handing Senate Democrats another pickup, according to the Associated Press.
Until recently, Republicans believed they would keep the Indiana seat given the Hoosier State’s strong GOP base. But Democrats spent early and often to boost Donnelly, and polls showed a tied race by Labor Day.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, Mourdock made a political mistake that might have cost Republicans this seat. In his final debate with Donnelly, Mourdock said he believed pregnancy resulting from rape is something “God intended.” Full story
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) will return to Congress for a second term, according to the Associated Press. He defeated state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R).
Thanks to inroads the GOP made during the 2010 midterms, Brown was viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbents this year. But his political skills proved dogged, and he seemed to have the upper hand for most of the cycle.
Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) will return to the Senate, according to Associated Press projections.
Stabenow seemed vulnerable early in the cycle. But her opponent, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), was never able to recover from a controversial television ad. President Barack Obama also proved to have strong coattails in Michigan, and the race was soon moved out of competitive categories.
Casey, however, got his scare at the end of the cycle. His self-funded opponent, Republican Tom Smith, was able to narrow the margin but couldn’t get across the finish line.
Rep. Christopher Murphy (D) defeated former WWE CEO Linda McMahon for Connecticut’s open-seat race tonight, according to the Associated Press.
The race was of great concern to national Democrats early in the fall, but all along they insisted that when the party competed with McMahon’s personal spending on the TV airwaves, Murphy would get breathing room.
McMahon went to extraordinary efforts to tie herself to President Barack Obama, but that effort proved unsuccessful. This was her second run for the Senate. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) defeated her in 2010. For the two runs, McMahon ultimately spent nearly $100 million from her personal fortune.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) easily won a third term tonight, beating Rep. Connie Mack IV (R), according to the Associated Press.
Nelson, who has managed to sustain a strong bipartisan appeal in Florida despite voting with Democrats most of the time in Washington, D.C., was always favored in his race with Mack.
The Congressman, son of former Florida Sen. Connie Mack III, was a weak candidate who at times seemed more focused on bashing Florida’s top political reporters than painting a contrast with Nelson. And he never raised the kind of money he would have needed to compete in the state’s exorbitantly expensive media markets.
The Senator, meanwhile, just kept plodding along and used his substantial war chest to hammer Mack in TV ads.
It’s not yet clear whether President Barack Obama will win the Sunshine State tonight, as he did in 2008. But, in polling, Nelson has always significantly outperformed Obama in the state. Nelson’s margin was likely among unmarried white women and independent voters, groups in which he comfortably ran ahead of the president.
Popular former Maine Gov. Angus King (I) tonight comfortably won the Pine Tree State’s open Senate seat, currently held by moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, who is retiring.
The Associated Press called the race. King beat Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers (R) and state Sen. Cynthia Dill (D).
King hasn’t said with which party he will caucus, but he is widely expected to cast his vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The National Republican Senatorial Committee spent a not insignificant amount of money against King, lobbing potent attack ads his way. National GOP third-party groups also tried to knock King down and boost Summers.