WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats lost Senate seats in at least five
states Tuesday, but were guaranteed to keep the majority thanks to
wins in California and West Virginia.
Republicans scored big wins, taking Senate seats from Democrats
in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arkansas, North Dakota and Indiana. The
net gain of 10 they needed for control of the chamber, however,
With Republicans taking over the House, President Barack Obama
will need a Democratic-run Senate to champion his legislative
Veteran Democratic Sens. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Blanche
Lincoln of Arkansas lost their re-election bids.
But West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin held off millionaire
Republican John Raese to keep a Democrat in the seat held for half
a century by the late Robert C. Byrd. And Sen. Barbara Boxer,
D-Calif., won a fourth term despite a spirited challenge from
Republican Carly Fiorina.
Those victories left Republicans no way to take the majority.
They possibly could achieve a 50-50 split. But Vice President Joe
Biden, the Senate's official president, would break ties in the
Republicans would have to win all the remaining tight races,
and pull off upsets in California and Washington.
Tea party champions won high-profile races in Florida and
Kentucky, spearheading a likely cadre of libertarian-leaning
Republicans who will press party leaders to be more adamant about
lower taxes, less spending and smaller government.
Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida rocked the GOP
establishment last spring by routing leadership favorites in party
primaries. Then they beat back Democrats' efforts to paint them as
too extreme, winning comfortably on Tuesday.
In Utah, tea party-backed Mike Lee also won easily after
snatching the Republican nomination from Sen. Bob Bennett in March.
"Tonight there's a tea party tidal wave," said an exultant
Feingold, a three-term Democrat, lost to GOP newcomer Ron
Johnson in Wisconsin. Best known for efforts to tighten campaign
finance laws, Feingold was the only senator to vote against the
so-called Patriot Act passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks,
calling it a dangerous infringement on civil liberties.
Johnson, 55, made a fortune in manufacturing plastics. He wants
to repeal the nation's new health care law, which he calls the
greatest single assault on freedom in his lifetime.
Lincoln fell to GOP Rep. John Boozman in Arkansas, where Obama
lost by 20 percentage points two years ago.
Conservatives said Lincoln, who won her first two Senate
elections comfortably, was too close to Obama, while liberals said
she wasn't loyal enough.
Indiana voters sent Republican Dan Coats back to the chamber
after a 12-year absence. Coats, who spent a decade in the Senate
before stepping down in 1998, defeated Democratic Rep. Brad
Ellsworth. The seat is being vacated by Democrat Evan Bayh.
In North Dakota, Republican Gov. John Hoeven handily won the
Senate seat that retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan held for 18 years.
But Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, kept his
state's open Senate seat in Democratic hands, fending off pro
wrestling entrepreneur Linda McMahon.
Paul, who beat Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway,
is an ophthalmologist who had not sought office before. His father
is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a hero to many libertarians. GOP Sen.
Jim Bunning is retiring from the seat.
Rubio, a former Florida House speaker, is not a political
newcomer. But he defied his party's establishment nonetheless,
refusing to stand aside for Gov. Charlie Crist in the Senate race.
Crist ran an independent effort, but Rubio comfortably defeated him
and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek. The Florida seat's previous two
occupants were Republicans who stepped down.
Christine O'Donnell, another tea party darling, lost to Democrat
Chris Coons in Delaware. She also had won a stunning GOP primary
victory, beating longtime Rep. Mike Castle, who was expected to top
Coons. But she raised eyebrows with curious comments about
witchcraft, the First Amendment and other topics, and failed to
extend her popularity to the broader November electorate.
Tea partiers were hoping for up to three more Senate victories
in western states. They included Nevada, where Sharron Angle hoped
to beat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Colorado, where Ken
Buck took on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
But a tempestuous three-way race in Alaska threatened to let
Democrat Scott McAdams win a once-hopeless race for GOP Sen. Lisa
Murkowski's seat. Murkowski was running a rare write-in campaign
after losing the Republican primary to another tea partier, Joe
In New Hampshire, Republican Kelly Ayotte kept her party in
control of the seat being vacated by Judd Gregg. The former state
attorney general defeated Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes.
Rob Portman won the Ohio Senate race, keeping a Republican in
the seat that Sen. George Voinovich is vacating. Portman spent 12
years in the U.S. House starting in 1993. He later was budget
director and then U.S. trade representative under President George
W. Bush. Portman defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.
In Kansas, GOP Rep. Jerry Moran won the Senate seat vacated by
Republican Sam Brownback, who was elected governor Tuesday.
And Rep. Roy Blunt kept Missouri's open Senate seat in
Easily winning re-election as expected were Sens. Mike Crapo,
R-Idaho, David Vitter, R-La., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, John
McCain, R-Ariz., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Tom
Coburn, R-Okla., Richard Burr, R-N.C., John Thune, R-S.D., Johnny
Isakson, R-Ga., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Kirsten
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Barbara Mikulski,
The race to fill the open Illinois Senate seat once held by
Obama pitted Republican Mark Kirk, a five-term House member,
against state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak beat
Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in the Senate
primary, and he faced GOP nominee Pat Toomey.
Democrats technically hold 57 Senate seats, but two independent
senators caucus with the party.