Election Roundup

The Democrats have taken the House of Representatives and United States Senate.The leader of the Republican Party, President George W. Bush, responded tothe large Republican loss. “It was a thumpin’,” Bush said in a press conference Wednesday.With this political change, the Democrats are poised to make history and name NancyPelosi to be the first-ever female speaker of the House.This transformation was the result of a number of close races across the country being won in the House and Senate by Democrats.On Election Day, the leader of these prominent races was the Senate race in the Virginia. This race pitted incumbent George Allen against Jim Webb, a former RepublicanSecretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. Webb beat Allen by 7,000 votes, giving the Democrats the final win to control the Senate.In the widely watched Pennsylvania Senate race, Senator-elect Bob Casey Jr. beat his opponent, former incumbent Rick Santorum, by 18 percent. Democrats throughout the country marked this race for its importance. With the loss of Santorum, the Republican’s lost their third ranking member.In Rhode Island, centrist Republican Lincoln Chafee lost his incumbency to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, and inVermont, Independent Bernie Sanders beat Republican Rich Tarrant by over 15 percent.”Vermont has sent a very strong signal to change the course,” Senator Patrick Leahy,D-VT said in response to the announcement of Sanders’ victory. Another incumbent was unseated in Ohio, where Republican Senator Mike DeWine lost by 12 percent to Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown.An additional race that was slow to be conceded was the Montana Senate race between Republican incumbent ConradBurns and Democrat and organic farmer Jon Tester. Tester announced victory on Nov. 8,but it was not until Nov. 9 that Burns finally conceded the election.This was one of the many closely followed elections, after it was made known that Burns had tied with recently disgracedlobbyist Jack Abramoff.While they picked up a substantial number of new seats in the Senate, the House ofRepresentatives was an even larger victory for the Democrats. Democrats gained 29 seats across the country in major Republican strongholds, such as Texas’s 22nd District. The district was the former home of Republican House majority leader Tom Delay, who left hisposition after a scandal emerged. Throughout the country, voters were also faced with serious ballot initiatives. One of the most controversial of these was a proposal in South Dakota that would place a ban on almost all abortions. However, this law was rejected with 55 percent of the state rejecting its premises.Other ballot initiatives include bans on gay marriages, which passed in seven of theeight states. They were proposed in, excluding Arizona. In Colorado an initiative failed that would permit the use of marijuana for unconditional reasons, and in South Dakota an initiative failed that would permit the use of medicinal marijuana.The 2006 election has had other effects on the political landscape. According to theAssociated Press, soon to be former Senator Chafee is reported to be considering aswitch to the Democratic Party after representing Rhode Island for seven years as a Republican. He was considered by many political insiders and his colleagues to be the most liberal Senator in the RepublicanParty. “There were times walking into my caucus room where it wasn’t fun,” Chafee said.Democrats are expected to caucus on Tuesday to nominate party leaders. Harry Reid isexpected to become the new Senate majority leader. Democrats in the House still have no clear view over who will become majority leader in the House, but representatives,such as John Murtha of Pennsylvania, vie for the seat. “Election Day was middleclass America’s declaration of independence from aRepublican-led administration and Congress that for six years has been telling working men and women and their families in this country to shut up, listen up and go to hell,” Lou Dobbs said in a CNN commentary.