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Decision 2010: The Aftermath

Prince Imrahil



The Basics

In the House of Representatives, Republicans picked up 61 seats and retook control of the chamber (they needed a net pickup of 39 seats to take the majority). In the Senate, Republicans picked up 6 seats (with two still too close to call), but control remains in Democratic hands. Republicans needed a net gain of 10 seats to take the majority in the Senate. Two Senate races are still pending. In Alaska, a three way race Between incumbent write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, Republican newcomer Joe Miller, and Democrat Scott McAdams. It seems that McAdams most likely will not win and the race will come down to Murkowski (currently ahead) and Miller. In Washington, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and Republican Dino Rossi also has yet to be called (with Murray having a 2 point advantage).

The Tea Party

The influence of the Tea Party may have given control of the House to Republicans, but it also may have cost them control of the Senate. In the Republican primary in Delaware, Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell defeated Mike Castle, the "establishment" candidate. In the general election however, she lost to Democrat Chris Coons by 16 points (this was the seat held by Vice President Joe Biden) after one of the more interesting elections this year. In Nevada, Tea Party-backed Sharon Angle lost to Democrat Harry Reid by 5 points. This was a marquee race because Senator Reid was in large part the face of the Democratic party; a man who many on the right painted as someone who blew the national debt wide open with TARP, "Obamacare," and the jobless stimulus. He also represented an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. What went wrong (at least in part) is that Angle stumbled going towards the finish-line by making some careless remarks that many deemed racist against Hispanics, who are a significant voting block in Nevada. Reid was primed to be ousted, but the Tea Party-backed Republican candidate was apparently not, as they say, "ready for prime time." The Tea Party did have some notable Senate victories, including Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida

The real question is whether or not Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner will be able to hold together the Republican Caucus in the House. Tea Party members have shown themselves to not exactly be in line with the Republican establishment, having ousted many establishment Republicans in state primaries, including a shocker in Utah where incumbent Bob Bennett lost to Tea Party-backed Mike Lee. Whether they can all work together will be nothing short of interesting to see for political junkies on both sides.

The Home Front

The 2008 election saw my home state, the Commonwealth of Virginia, give its 13 electoral votes to Barack Obama, as well as send former governor Mark Warner to the Senate. This was the first time since 1964 that Virginia went blue in a presidential election. A year later however, Republicans swept the state executive positions, taking the governorship, lieutenant governorship, and the attorney general's office out of Democratic hands. Tuesday's election continued this red-ward trend. Democrats had held 5 of Virginia's 11 congressional seats. Two of these seats fell to the Republicans, including the 9th district. This seat had been represented Democrat Rick Boucher for 28 years. Republican Morgan Griffith will this seat come January (Griffith won by 4 points). Another major target for the Republicans was Tom Periello of the 5th district. He was defeated by Robert Hurt by 4 points. Virginia, once considered a "purple" state, has shifted more to the red.

Through Rainbow Coloured Glasses

For the LGBT community, this was not a good election. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania's 8th district (a former Army paratrooper) was one of the major proponents of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in Congress. However, he lost his bid for reelection after serving two terms. In general, the Republican's taking control of the House virtually eliminates any chance of DADT being repealed, as well as passing employment non-discrimination through Congress. Only a slim chance remains that Congress will work towards either being passed in the lame-duck session before the year's end, but even this slim chance has all but been written off. Three of the seven Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled in favour of the state recognizing same-sex marriage were ousted (all seven judges voted for same-sex marriage).

There is some good news however. All three incumbent House members who are openly gay won reelection (Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin's 2nd, Barney Frank of Massachusetts 4th, and Jared Polis Colorado's 2nd). In addition, there was a fourth added to their ranks: David Cicilline of Rhode Island's 1st district. Ken Buck, who stated being gay is like being an alcoholic, lost in a squeaker against incumbent Michael Bennet in Colorado's Senate race(the race was not called until Wednesday afternoon). Pro-gay candidates won their gubernatorial bids in Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island, as well as the mayoral race in Lexington, Kentucky. In fact, of the 164 candidates at the local, state, and federal levels backed by the Victory Fund (an organization that supports candidates friendly to/part of the LGBT community), a record 106 won their elections.

To January

I am generally not one to make predictions, but I will risk stepping in "it." We have already heard Republicans talk about repealing the health care bill both on the campaign trail and in the election's aftermath. The same goes with renewing ALL of the Bush tax cuts. Many of the major battles that were fought over the last two years are about to be re-fought. While Republicans are likely to get many of these things through the House, they would then likely flounder in the Democratic held Senate or meet President Obama's veto pen. Though many people are used to little getting done in Congress, it is about to get to a whole new level. Prepare for gridlock.

(Dis)Honourable Mention

-Meg Whitman ran for the governorship of California. She spent $140,000,000 of her own money...and lost.

-Linda McMahon spent $46,000,000 of her own money to take the Connecticut Senate seat vacated by Chris Dodd...and lost.

-Prop 19 (legalizing pot) in California failed. Not that I'm particularly pro-marijuana, but can we switch this result with Prop 8?

-For the first time in 30 years, the number of women in Congress dropped.

-Probably the biggest losses for Senate Democrats was Russ Feingold of Wisconsin as well as President Obama's Senate seat in Illinois.

This battle for 2010 is over. The war for 2012 starts today.



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