Women expanded their representation yesterday in a Congress that will be reshaped by at least 115 new faces -- including a major infusion of minorities and self-proclaimed Washington "outsiders" -- and will be under the firm control of the Democrats in both houses.
A consolidation of Democratic strength in the Senate, with a possible but not certain gain of one seat for a total of 58, included three and probably four women in addition to the two current female senators.
Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois became the first black woman elected to the Senate, and was joined by Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California and Patty Murray of Washington State. Barbara Boxer of California claimed victory and appeared likely to win.
In both houses, President-elect Bill Clinton's coattails helped some Democrats but did not reach far enough to rescue others.
With some races still to be decided, representatives of both parties estimated the GOP would pick up between 10 and 20 seats in the House, which would narrow the Democrats' current 100-seat margin.
In the House, the numbers of African-American and Hispanic members appeared almost certain to increase by about 50 percent to a total of at least 55. Before complete returns were counted on the West Coast, where a large number of women were running, 39 had won. The final tally was expected to be about 50, an increase of about two-thirds over the current 28.
While predictions of massive losses by incumbents did not materialize, especially in the Senate, anti-incumbent anger took more of a toll in the House.
Three Senate incumbents, including two Republicans and one Democrat, lost in North Carolina, Wisconsin and California. At least 22 House incumbents, 16 of them Democrats, also lost.
They included Reps. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), Joseph D. Early (D-Mass.), Thomas J. Downey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Gerry Sikorski (D-Minn.), all of whom suffered political damage in the House Bank scandal. Rep. Bill Green (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Ron Marlenee (R-Mont.) lost their seats. With many races still to be decided, Rep. Guy Vander Jagt (Mich.), outgoing chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, estimated the GOP would pick up about 20 seats.
In one of two early defeats for Senate incumbents, Terry Sanford (D-N.C.) was turned out of office by Democrat-turned-Republican Lauch Faircloth, a wealthy east North Carolina businessman and political ally of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).
In Wisconsin, state Sen. Russell Feingold (D), who came from behind to win a surprise primary victory, defeated Sen. Robert W. Kasten Jr. (R).
In Georgia, Sen. Wyche Fowler (D-Ga.) appeared headed for a runoff later this month if, as seemed likely, he fails to win a majority in his three-way race with Paul Coverdell (R) and a candidate of the Libertarian Party.
But Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) came from behind to defeat New York state attorney general Robert Abrams (D) in a close race after one of the most vitriolic primary and general election campaigns for the Senate this year.
In two races where Democratic women failed to dislodge male Republican opponents, Lynn Yeakel (D) lost to Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, and, in Missouri, Geri Rothman-Serot (D) failed to dislodge Sen. Christopher Bond after appearing to seriously threaten him through most of the evening.
In last night's first victory by women, Braun, the Cook County recorder of deeds, handily defeated Richard Williamson, a wealthy Chicago lawyer who served as an aide to former president Ronald Reagan. She won despite a recent controversy over her handling of Medicaid support for her mother's nursing home care.
Braun, who won an open seat held by the Democrats, will be the first black senator since Sen. Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) lost his seat in 1979 and the first black Democrat -- as well as the first black woman -- to serve as a senator in the country's history.
In California, Feinstein defeated appointed Sen. John Seymour (R), and television networks projected that Boxer had defeated conservative Bruce Herschensohn (R) for the seat held by retiring Sen. Alan Cranston (D). Murray won the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Brock Adams (D-Wash.).
The new women in the Senate will join incumbents Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who won reelection yesterday.
In other races, Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) won a fourth term despite earlier Democratic fears that he was one of their most endangered incumbents. Glenn's apparent victory, coupled with that of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), meant that the only two senators in the Keating Five savings-and-loan ethics case who faced the voters this year won reelection.
In Colorado, Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D) became the first American Indian elected to the Senate, winning an open seat previously held by the Democrats.
In New Hampshire, Gov. Judd Gregg (R) defeated Democratic businessman John Rauh for a previously GOP-controlled Senate seat. In Oregon, Sen. Bob Packwood, a Republican, was leading Rep. Les AuCoin, the Democrat.
In South Carolina, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D), another endangered incumbent, survived without great difficulty. The Senate
Three Senate incumbents were defeated: California's Seymour (R) lost to Feinstein, North Carolina's Sanford (D) lost to Faircloth and Kasten (R) lost to Feingold in Wisconsin.
The 12 Democratic incumbents who won reelection were the second-ranking Democratic leader, Wendell H. Ford (Ky.), and Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (Md.), Bob Graham (Fla.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), Dale Bumpers (Ark.), Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.), Tom Daschle (S.D.), Daniel K. Inouye (Hawaii), Harry M. Reid (Nev.), John Glenn (Ohio), Ernest F. Hollings (S.C.) and Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.). And a Democratic House member, Byron Dorgan (N.D.), won election to the Senate.
Twelve Republican incumbents were running for reelection, and at least nine were winners. Two lost -- Seymour and Kasten -- and one incumbent race in Oregon was too close to call.
The top Senate Republican, Robert J. Dole (Kan.), was reelected to a seat that will make him the leading GOP spokesman in Washington.
Another Republican, Sen. Dan Coats (Ind.), who was appointed to the Senate in 1988 and won a special election two years ago, easily won a full six-year term. Coats's major theme throughout his career has been keeping out-of-state garbage from being dumped in Indiana landfills.
Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) won reelection as expected over former state House speaker Steve Lewis. His victory total was approaching 60 percent, far more than his 55 percent six years ago.
Other winning GOP incumbents were Frank H. Murkowski in Alaska, Bond in Missouri, Specter in Pennsylvania, McCain in Arizona, D'Amato in New York and Grassley in Iowa.
Seats vacated by GOP senators in Utah and Idaho remained in the Republican camp.
The four women who appeared to have won had become symbols of the "Year of the Woman."
Braun, the Cook County recorder of deeds, upset Sen. Alan J. Dixon in the Democratic primary and survived questions about her handling of Medicaid benefits for her mother. It was revealed that Braun's family divided a $28,750 check paid to her mother for sale of timber rights. The income was not reported to state officials who might have ordered it used to help cover her mother's care at a nursing home.
Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor who lost the gubernatorial race in 1990, defeated Seymour, who was the hand-picked candidate of the man who defeated her for governor, Pete Wilson. Her name recognition played a major role.
Boxer, who espouses a liberal agenda from defense cuts to abortion rights, defeated a man who clearly was opposed to almost everything she advocated, former television commentator Bruce Herschensohn. Boxer survived problems in her House career, including 143 overdrafts in the House bank.
Murray, the self-styled "mom in tennis shoes," won the seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Brock Adams. She bested five-term Rep. Rod Chandler, a moderate Republican who made the mistake of launching several sarcastic attacks against her that apparently turned voters off. She is a state senator, but insists she is mainly a mother, substitute teacher and day-care worker.
Campbell's victory in Colorado and Braun's victory in Illinois retained Democratic seats that the GOP had hoped to win, and gave the Senate two "firsts" -- an American Indian and a black woman.
Campbell, who replaces Sen. Tim Wirth (D), will also be the first male senator to wear a ponytail and a string tie, which may require a change in Senate rules. He also is a judo champion, and he has an unusual source of outside income -- hand-made jewelry.
Thirty-four Senate seats were contested in yesterday's election, about one-third of the chamber. One other seat was already decided when Sen. John B. Breaux (D-La.) won a majority of votes in the state's unusual all-party, winner-take-all primary a month ago. A 36th seat will be filled Dec. 4 in a special election to replace the late Sen. Quentin Burdick (D-N.D.). Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who decided not to run again for his own seat but later reversed course, is heavily favored to win Burdick's seat.
At the center of the struggle for the Senate were nine open seats for which incumbents are not running for reelection, along with several seats that were pivotal when the Republicans took control of the Senate in 1980 and the Democrats seized it back in 1986.
In all, there were a dozen or more closely contested races involving seats held in roughly equal numbers by the two parties. The number of races regarded as competitive by both parties -- more than one-third of the total at stake in yesterday's voting -- was more than normal for recent elections.
Five Democrats and three Republicans did not seek reelection, and Dixon (D-Ill.) was defeated in a primary contest. The total of nine voluntary and involuntary retirements before Election Day matched the most recent record for open seats set in 1980, when five senators retired and four were defeated in primaries. The House
A combination of a general anti-incumbent mood, the House Bank scandal and the decennial reapportionment kept more House races in doubt than usual, causing lists of endangered incumbents to include leaders from both parties.
Oakar lost to lawyer Martin Hoke (R) in a redrawn district in the Cleveland area, while in central Massachusetts Early was ousted by state Rep. Peter Blute (R). In a three-way race in Minnesota, Sikorski, who had 697 overdrafts, lost to former television anchorman Rod Grams (R).
Bank overdrafts also caused trouble for Downey, a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, in his loss to county legislator Rick Lazio on Long Island. Psychologist Ted Strickland (D) made overdrafts an issue in his successful campaign against Ohio Rep. Bob McEwen (R).
Green, a moderate Republican who often voted with Democrats, lost to New York Councilwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D) in a redrawn district. Marlenee, a conservative, lost to Rep. Pat Williams (D) in a statewide district created when Montana lost one of its two seats.
Massachusetts Rep. Nicholas Mavroules (D) conceded defeat to former legislator Peter Torkildsen (R) shortly before midnight. In Pennsylvania, Desert Storm veteran Paul McHale (D) defeated Rep. Don Ritter (R) and Rep. Peter Kostmayer (D) lost to state Sen. James C. Greenwood (R), a moderate.
In Missouri, Rep. E. Thomas Coleman (R) lost to state Sen. Patricia Danner (D), while Rep. Joan Kelly Horn (D) lost to legislator James M. Talent (R) in a suburban St. Louis district. In Indiana, Rep. Jim Jontz (D) was narrowly defeated by Desert Storm veteran Steve Buyer.
Illinois Rep. John W. Cox Jr. (D) was defeated by lawyer Donald Manzullo (R) in a district that was previously represented by Republicans Lynn Martin and John Anderson.
Alabama Rep. Ben Erdreich (D) lost to Spencer Bachus (R), a former state party chairman, in a Birmingham-area district made more Republican in a remap. Redistricting also played a role in the defeat of Rep. Richard Ray (D) to state senator Mac Collins (R) in Georgia.
Texas Rep. Albert Bustamante (D) was defeated by Henry Bonilla (R), a television executive in San Antonio. South Carolina Rep. Liz Patterson (D) lost to lawyer Rob Inglis (R), who ran as an outsider.
Besides Marlenee, there were four losers in incumbent-versus-incumbent matchups. Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilcrest (R) won over Rep. Tom McMillen on the Eastern Shore and Rep. Jim Nussle (R) ousted Rep. Dave Nagle (D). In Louisiana, Rep. Jim McCrery (R) defeated Rep. Jerry Huckaby (D), while Rep. Richard H. Baker (R) beat Rep. Clyde Holloway (R).
But voters appeared to apply their anti-incumbent grudge unevenly in House races as some endangered incumbents pulled out victories while others either trailed or battled for political survival in close races, based on partial returns.
Among the survivors were Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), Rep. William Goodling (R-Pa.), Rep. David Skaggs (D-Colo.), Rep. Romano L. Mazzoli (D-Ky.), Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), Rep. Gary L. Franks (R-Conn.) and Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.), whose Republican opponent criticized his 81 overdrafts.
In northern California, former state senator H.L. "Bill" Richardson conceded early this morning to Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) was in a tight contest with John Devens, former mayor of Valdez.
In Connecticut, Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D) was in a close race with state Sen. Edward W. Munster (R), who made light of his unusual name by having a campaign worker walk around wearing a mask of the television character Herman Munster. With 99 percent of the precincts counted, Gejdenson led by fewer than 4,000 votes.
Staff writers Guy Gugliotta, Eric Pianin, Don Phillips, Lou Cannon, Dale Russakoff, Thomas W. Lippman, John Lancaster, Kathy Sawyer, William Claiborne, Al Kamen, Dana Priest, Lou Cannon and Barbara Vobejda, and staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.