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After midterm wins, GOP vows to block Obama's agenda
The GOP wave in the House spared few of the most vulnerable Democrats--and seniority was no lifejacket. Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (S.C.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee who was bidding for his 15th term, lost his race, as did 17-term Rep. Ike Skelton (Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. James L. Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a House member since 1965; and 10-term Rep. Chet Edwards (Tex.).
Newer Democrats who embraced Obama's agenda also were turned out, including Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia and Rep. John Boccieri in Ohio. But some Democrats who did not embrace all of the president's major initiatives were also defeated.
In Georgia's 2nd District, Republican Mike Keown was declared the winner Tuesday night, based on early returns. But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, the Democratic candidate, incumbent Sanford Bishop, appeared to be ahead, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Republicans gained at least six Senate seats but were blocked from winning the 10 needed to take control of that chamber as Democrats held enough of their most endangered states.
Early in the evening, Republicans picked off a Democratic seat in Arkansas, where Rep. John Boozman defeated Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln, who survived a tough primary, was the first Senate incumbent to lose. Later, Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who began the year on no one's list of endangered incumbents, lost to Republican businessman Ron Johnson.
In Indiana, former congressman Dan Coats (R) scored an easy victory over Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) for a seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh. Another Republican gain came in North Dakota, where Gov. John Hoeven easily captured the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Byron L. Dorgan.
Republicans also won a Senate seat in Pennsylvania - where Republican Pat Toomey defeated Rep. Joe Sestak, who had beaten party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary. Just after midnight, they added the Senate seat Obama once held in Illinois. There, Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R) defeated Alexi Giannoulias (D) in one of the year's nastiest campaigns.
But in West Virginia's Senate race, Gov. Joe Manchin III (D), who appeared in trouble only a few weeks ago, defeated Republican businessman John Raese.
And Democratic control of the Senate was assured just before midnight, when Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) was declared the winner in her bitter contest against former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina.
That meant that, for the first time in eight decades, the House changed hands without the Senate following suit.
The final balance of the Senate remained in doubt Wednesday, with three races too close to call. In Colorado, where Bennet declared victory, the GOP's Buck was not immediately conceding. In Washington, incumbent Sen. Patty Murray (D) was narrowly ahead of Republican Dino Rossi by with more 62 percent of precincts reporting.
The other Senate race still undetermined was in Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), waging a write-in campaign, appeared to be leading over tea party favorite Joe Miller, who had defeated her in the GOP primary. Democrat Scott McAdams was running third. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, write-in ballots had captured 41 percent of the vote, with Miller at 34 percent and Democrat Scott McAdams at 24 percent. More time was needed to verify how many of the write-in votes were in fact for Murkowski.