Voters returned Lisa Murkowski to the U.S. Senate despite widespread unhappiness about how she got there in the first place.
Murkowski, 47, became Alaska's first senator born in the state when she was appointed by her father, Frank H. Murkowski, to take his seat after he was elected governor. The younger Murkowski, a Georgetown graduate and lawyer, had served two two-year terms in Alaska's House and had just been reelected to a third.
The appointment rankled self-reliant Alaskans and became even less palatable as Frank Murkowski's popularity plummeted when he cut the state budget. The younger Murkowski's campaign signs became a kind of political eye chart, with her first name in big letters and her last name in small ones.
But Democratic hopes that Tony Knowles, popular former Anchorage mayor and two-term governor, would beat Murkowski proved evanescent. She won with 49 percent of the vote to Knowles's 45 percent.
President Bush carried the state with 62 percent of the vote.
"We've had some good news across the country tonight -- we're talking about ANWR," the Anchorage Daily News quoted Murkowski as saying as she watched the vote tally at a restaurant with her family. She was referring to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which she hopes will be opened for oil and gas drilling -- a position also held by her opponent.
Alaska's ballot featured the broadest of several initiatives around the country that would permit use of marijuana under certain circumstances. Alaskans were asked whether they wanted to make it fully legal for people older than age 21 to "grow, use, sell or give away marijuana and hemp products" (which could, however, be regulated like alcohol or tobacco).
They answered no, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Kerry carried California 55 percent to 44 percent. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who began her "victory tour" before Election Day, saw her confidence pay off with a 58 percent to 38 percent win over Republican former secretary of state Bill Jones.
Former state attorney general Dan Lungren took the Sacramento area House seat vacated by fellow Republican Doug Ose with 62 percent of the vote.
Similarly, former state senator Jim Costa, a Democrat, took the Hanford area seat previously held by the retiring Calvin M. Dooley, also a Democrat. Costa beat Roy Ashburn, a Republican state senator, with 54 percent of the vote.
Kerry beat Bush handily in Oregon, with 52 percent of the vote. Minor-party candidates took only 1 percent of total votes, and Ralph Nader, who won 5 percent in 2000, was not even on the ballot.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, as anticipated, was easily reelected, getting twice as many votes as Republican Al King.
In House seats, the only uncertainty was whether Democrat David Wu, who has represented Portland and northwest Oregon for three terms, would be reelected.