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Major Races Show Democratic Gains

Wednesday, 05 Nov 2008 10:16 AM

Democrats picked up at least five Senate posts Tuesday night and now weild a strong 56-44 seat majority with several races still to be decided Wednesday morning.

The close votes in Alaska, Georgia, Minnesota and Oregon give the Democrats and allied Independents a slim chance of reaching a fillibuster-proof majority of 60 seats.

Thirty-five Senate seats were up for grabs this year, 23 of them held by Republicans. Five Republican senators retired: Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Wayne Allard of Colorado, John Warner of Virginia, Larry Craig of Idaho and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

On election night, Democrat Tom Udall defeated Republican Steve Pearce for the seat Domenici vacated. In Nebraska, former Gov. Mike Johanns, a Republican, took Hagel's former seat over rancher Scott Kleeb, a Democrat.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Risch beat Democratic former Rep. Larry LaRocco for the Senate race in Idaho. Risch replaces Craig, whose arrest in a police sting operation in a Minneapolis, Minnesota, airport bathroom made his Senate post one of the most closely watched.

Races still too close to call on Wednesday morning include the Senate contest in Minnesota, where incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman is facing a tough challenge from comedian Democrat Al Franken. In Georgia, incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is clinging to a slim lead over challenger Democrat Jim Martin.

In Alaska, where polls closed at 1 a.m. EST, incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Stevens appeared to be in a tight race against Democrat Mark Begich. Meanwhile in Oregon, incumbent Republican Sen. Gordon Smith and Democrat Jeff Merkley, speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, were in a dead heat.

Results in other key Senate races include:


New Hampshire:

Democratic Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen defeated Republican incumbent John Sununu.

North Carolina:

Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole lost to Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan.


Democrat Dick Durbin beat Republican Steve Sauerberg


Democrat and former Gov. Mark Warner bested Republican Jim Gillome


Democratic Rep. Mark Udall beat Republican Bob Schaffer, a former three-term congressman


Democratic incumbent John Kerry defeated Republican challenger Jeff Beatty.

West Virginia:

Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller topped Republican businessman Jay Wolfe

New Jersey:

Incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg set down Republican Dick Zimmer.

South Dakota:

Two-term Democrat Tim Johnson beat Republican Joel Dykstra


Democrat Carl Levin defeated Republican state Sen. Jack Hoogendyk.

Rhode Island:

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed won a third term against Republican Robert Tingle.


Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin beat Republican Christopher Reed.


Democratic incumbent Max Baucus won a sixth term against Republican attorney Bob Kelleher.


Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor topped Green Party challenger Rebekah Kennedy.



Incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, defeated Democratic businessman Bruce Lunsford

South Carolina:

Republican Lindsey Graham, also an incumbent, will win the Senate race in South Carolina.


Susan Collins beat Democratic challenger Tom Allen.


Republican Lamar Alexander won over Democrat Bob Tuke.


Republican incumbent James Inhofe beat Democrat Andrew Rice.


Mike Enzi won over Democrat Christopher Rothfuss

Republican incumbent John Barrasso won over Democrat Nick Carter.


Republican incumbent Pat Roberts won a third term against Democrat Jim Slatter.


Republican Jeff Sessions defeated Democrat Vivian Davis Figures


Republican incumbent Thad Cochran took a sixth term over Democrat Erik Fleming.


Republican incumbent John Cornyn clinched a second term over Democratic state Rep. Rick Noriega.

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