Dems Complete Election Sweep of Congress
Thursday, November 9, 2006; 2:14 AM
WASHINGTON -- Democrats completed an improbable double-barreled election sweep of Congress on Wednesday, taking control of the Senate with a victory in Virginia as they padded their day-old majority in the House.
"The days of the do-nothing Congress are over," declared Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, in line to become majority leader. "In Iraq and here at home, Americans have made clear they are tired of the failures of the last six years."
Jim Webb's victory over Sen. George Allen in Virginia assured Democrats of 51 seats when the Senate convenes in January. That marked a gain of six in midterm elections in which the war in Iraq and President Bush were major issues.
Earlier, State Sen. Jon Tester triumphed over Republican Sen. Conrad Burns in a long, late count in Montana.
With a handful of House races too close to call, Democrats had gained 28 seats, enough to regain the majority after 12 years of Republican rule and place Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California in line to become the first female speaker in history.
"It was a thumping," Bush conceded at the White House. "It's clear the Democrat Party had a good night."
Allen's campaign issued a statement noting that state officials are conducting a canvass of the votes cast in Tuesday's balloting.
"At the conclusion of those efforts, Senator George Allen plans to make a statement regarding the outcome," it said.
The Senate had teetered at 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans for most of Wednesday, with Virginia hanging in the balance. Webb's victory ended Republican hopes of eking out a 50-50 split, with Vice President Dick Cheney wielding tie-breaking authority.
The Associated Press contacted election officials in all 134 localities in Virginia where voting occurred, obtaining updated numbers Wednesday. About half the localities said they had completed their postelection canvassing and nearly all had counted outstanding absentees. Most were expected to be finished by Friday.
The new AP count showed Webb with 1,172,538 votes and Allen with 1,165,302, a difference of 7,236. Virginia has had two statewide vote recounts in modern history, but both resulted in vote changes of no more than a few hundred votes.
It had been clear for weeks leading up to the election that Democrats were strongly positioned to challenge Republicans for House control.