Gov. Don Siegelman (D) and Rep. Bob Riley (R), a three-term member of Congress, were awaiting a final tally yesterday in their close race for governor. Siegelman is seeking to become the first Democrat since the 1970s to win consecutive terms as governor in Alabama.
He has been dogged by accusations of ethical lapses and questions about his personal finances. Riley centered his campaign on ethics, with promises that he would revise contracting practices and enhance disclosure requirements for lobbyists.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), first elected to the Senate in 1996, easily won a second term, defeating state auditor Susan Parker (D), who had won the Democratic primary in a runoff election that left her campaign coffer seriously drained. A stalwart conservative, Sessions was an especially vigorous opponent of President Clinton's judicial nominees, has been outspoken on school prayer and abortion, and tried unsuccessfully to limit attorneys' fees in tobacco settlements
State House minority leader Mike Rogers (R) defeated former state Democratic chairman Joe Turnham (D) to fill the House seat vacated by Riley, maintaining the GOP's control of that district. And Jo Bonner (R), former chief of staff to retiring Rep. Sonny Callahan (R), handily beat Democrat Judy McCain Belk, a businesswoman and former school board member.
Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), a Baptist minister, overcame a last-minute push by longtime state treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher to get reelected to the statehouse.
Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R) had been considered the GOP's most vulnerable incumbent, and the election proved the prediction correct. The freshman senator lost to Mark L. Pryor (D), the state attorney general and son of an enormously popular politician, David Pryor (D), a former governor and three-term senator.
The pair had run a negative and expensive race -- at $20 million, the most expensive in state history. A Baptist minister elected in 1996 as a Christian conservative, Hutchinson nicked his own reputation three years later when he divorced his wife of nearly three decades and married a young former aide.
In addition to drawing upon his father's legacy, Pryor positioned himself as a conservative Democrat and -- without explicitly mentioning Hutchinson's personal life -- campaigned on a theme of "values." He emphasized his populist record as attorney general, including litigation against tobacco companies and moves to lower utility rates and enable residents to block telemarketing calls.
In the state's most competitive House race, Rep. Mike Ross (D) won a second term, frustrating the attempt of former representative Jay Dickey (R) to reclaim the seat he lost to Ross two years ago.
Gov. Jeb Bush (R) beat back a concerted Democratic effort to avenge the state's 2000 presidential election recount and send a message of disapproval to his brother, President Bush. Gov. Bush defeated Democrat Bill McBride, a strong first-time candidate who is a Tampa lawyer and decorated military veteran. McBride had won an upset primary victory over former attorney general Janet Reno.
The governor was quick Tuesday night to thank the president for helping his "little brother" by making repeated fundraising visits to the state. The governor also was widely considered to have outperformed McBride in the candidates' final public debate.
In one of two new House seats created after the last Census, state House Speaker Tom Feeney (R) defeated Harry Jacobs (D), an attorney. The win was no surprise because Feeney had helped design the district to favor the GOP and it matches the boundaries of his existing state House seat. Jacobs had decried Feeney's ethics, trying to sway voters by suggesting the legislator had used political influence to help a client win government contracts.
The other new House seat, a South Florida district also drawn to favor Republicans, was taken by state representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R), the younger brother of Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R). He overwhelmed fellow state legislator Anne Betancourt (D), with whom he had clashed on U.S. policy toward Cuba. Betancourt had advocated the opening of trade while Diaz-Balart supports the trade embargo.
Katherine Harris (R), the Florida secretary of state who played a prominent and controversial role in the 2000 presidential recount, easily won an open House seat. She defeated attorney Jan Schneider in a heavily Republican district that includes Harris's native Sarasota. Harris will succeed Rep. Dan Miller (R), who is retiring.
Kendrick Meek (D), a state senator who has been a Florida legislator since 1994, will take over the Miami seat held by his mother, Rep. Carrie P. Meek (D), who in 1992 became the first African American from Florida elected to Congress since shortly after the Civil War. The GOP did not field a candidate in the largely Democratic district, so Meek's only opposition was from a write-in candidate.
In the Sunshine State's most hotly contested House race, state Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R) defeated incumbent Rep. Karen L. Thurman (D) in a Gulf Coast district with newly drawn boundaries.
In one of the year's major upsets, Republican Sonny Perdue defeated Gov. Roy Barnes (D), who had been expected to win a second term with ease. Perdue, a state senator for a dozen years, had been a Democrat until he switched parties four years ago. He will become Georgia's first GOP governor since Reconstruction.
Perdue holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine but has spent most of his adult life in the grain storage and trucking business. He has proposed eliminating state taxes on non-wage income for residents over 62 and wants to create a new office of state inspector general to battle corruption.
Barnes was not the only Georgia incumbent who lost a race. Sen. Max Cleland (D) was defeated by Rep. C. Saxby Chambliss (R), one of several Senate candidates who had been recruited this year by the Bush White House. First elected to Congress in the large GOP class of 1994, Chambliss is chairman of the House intelligence committee's homeland security subcommittee and the Budget Committee's agriculture subcommittee.
Rep. John Linder (R) beat a first-time Democratic candidate, attorney Michael Berlong. Linder's victory had been expected since the Republican primary in the newly drawn district, in which he trounced a fellow incumbent, Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R), one of the most conservative members of the House.
In an Atlanta area district, Denise Majette (D), a state court judge who is a political novice, defeated Republican Cynthia Van Auken. Like Linder, Majette had been predicted to win since her success in the Democratic primary over Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who had drawn criticism for suggesting that President Bush had not tried hard enough to prevent the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
As expected, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R), easily won a fourth term to the Senate. Claiming nearly two-thirds of the vote, he defeated Lois Combs Weinberg (D), the daughter of former governor Bert Combs.
Rep. Anne M. Northup (R), targeted by the Democrats this year, will hold her seat in the Louisville area for a fourth term. With President Bush appearing at a rally for her in the campaign's final days, Northrup beat Democrat Jack Conway, a former deputy secretary to Gov. Paul Patton (D). Northrup had played up that affiliation, hoping that voters would associate Conway with a recent sex scandal involving the governor.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) far outpolled her five competitors, but she fell a few percentage points shy of the votes she needed to cement the election. Under Louisiana's unique all-party primary method, a runoff is required unless a candidate draws at least 50 percent of the vote. Landrieu, who has served one term in the Senate, attracted 46 percent, in a race entered by several Republicans in hopes of forcing such a face-off.
As a result, Landrieu will run against Suzanne Haik Terrell (R) on Dec. 7, leaving the Senate's final composition unresolved for another month. Terrell, the state elections commissioner, had the backing of the national GOP.
Another of Landrieu's Republican challengers, Rep. John Cooksey, forfeited his House seat to run for the Senate. The resulting open seat also will be decided by a runoff. Rodney Alexander (D), a conservative state legislator who has championed school prayer and opposes abortion, will face Lee Fletcher (R), Cooksey's former chief of staff and president of the Fletcher Group, a strategic management, fundraising and development company.
When Sen. Thad Cochran (R) first entered the Senate in 1978, he was the first Republican elected to statewide office in Mississippi in more than a century. Now he has won a fifth term with no major party opposition. Democrat Steven Turney dropped out of the race three months ago, citing health reasons.
Cochran has served as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and has over the years advocated a national missile defense system while opposing reductions in farm subsidies and other proposals that could harm his state's economy.
In a House race between two incumbents, Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr. (R) resoundingly defeated Rep. Ronnie Shows (D). The outcome was largely foreordained because the GOP had won a legal case for the right to determine the boundaries of the new district after Mississippi lost a seat in the last Census. Pickering, the son of a federal appeals court nominee defeated in the Senate, had raised far more money than Shows and been helped by a reduced proportion of black voters in the new district.
Capping a surprisingly close gubernatorial race in this heavily Republican state, former Rep. Mark Sanford (R) defeated incumbent Jim Hodges (D), who was elected to the statehouse four years ago and had taken a political hit for the state's ailing economy. Sanford, who had surprised insiders by defeating Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler in the Republican primary, has called for elimination of the state's income tax and supported school vouchers.
Rep. Lindsey O. Graham (R), who came into the spotlight during the Clinton administration as a House impeachment manager, overwhelmed Democrat Alex Sanders, a former state legislator, judge and college president for the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Strom Thurmond (R). Graham benefited from President Bush's enormous popularity in this state and had highlighted his opponent's opposition to the death penalty.
State representative Gresham Barrett (R) beat George Brightharp (D) to fill the House seat that Graham vacates. Barrett has been an especially vocal opponent of abortion and, as a graduate of the Citadel and a former Army officer, is an advocate of increased military spending.
Phil Bredesen (D), a former Nashville mayor, defeated Rep. Van Hilleary (R) in the race to replace Gov. Don Sundquist (R), who is term-limited. Bredesen is famed for having lured the NFL to Nashville by building a new stadium that led the Houston Oilers to become the Tennessee Titans. He had lost to Sundquist in a 1994 gubernatorial bid. Hilleary had built his campaign around his opposition to a state income tax.
Lamar Alexander (R), a former governor and U.S. education secretary, soundly defeated Rep. Bob Clement (D), a seven-term House member and son of a former governor, to fill the Senate seat left by the retirement of Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R).
Democrat Lincoln Davis defeated Janice Bowling (R), a former aide to Hilleary, to fill the House seat Hilleary is leaving. In other House races, Marsha Blackburn (R) overwhelmed Tim Barron (D) and former House member Jim Cooper (D) easily beat Republican Robert Duvall to return to Congress from Clement's old district.