Grass-roots conservatives got off to a stunning start on Election Night, scoring a flurry of quick victories over Democrats in Kentucky, South Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio.
The networks called several races for tea party candidates just after 7 p.m. ET: incumbent GOP conservative Sen. Jim DeMint won in South Carolina, tea-party favorite Rand Paul was declared the victor in Kentucky, and Dan Coats won his Senate contest in Indiana.
When polls in other states closed at 7:30, Fox also immediately named GOP conservative Rob Portman the winner over Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.
FreedomWorks chairman and former GOP Majority Leader Dick Armey told Newsmax he was surprised so many grass-roots conservative candidates were declared the winners so early. Armey tells Newsmax it marks an excellent start for tea party candidates.
"I've come to really believe Republicans will gain the Senate, unless they have any races that go into recount," Armey tells Newsmax. "And I think the Harry Reid race [against Sharron Angle in Nevada] is the most likely race to go to recount. Democrats almost always win recounts."
Republican officials were immediately relieved that Paul won in Kentucky, a seat they were concerned could be vulnerable. In recent weeks he pulled away from Democratic challenger Jack Conway.
Now Republicans are turning their attention to West Virginia, where Republican John Raese faces a tough contest against popular West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin to permanently fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Sen. Robert F. Byrd.
So far the race is too close to call, but losing the race would be a serious blow to GOP hopes of winning 51 seats in the Senate. To accomplish that they need a net gain of 10 seats, on top of the 41 they currently possess.
"This could be an indication of a blow out," Fox News host Chris Wallace said of the early returns. "This could be the biggest pickup since 1948 for anyone."
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