In the End, Pivotal Races Tipped to Democrats
Sen. Rick Santorum, a staunch conservative seeking a third term, became one of the first Republican senators to fall to the Democrats. Bob Casey Jr., a soft-spoken moderate and son of a popular former governor, became the first Pennsylvania Democrat elected to a full six-year U.S. Senate term since 1962.
For much of the election year, Sen. Rick Santorum, the third-ranking member of the GOP leadership, has been one of the most embattled Republican senators, sometimes trailing behind Casey by double digits in the polls. Santorum tried to position himself as strong on national security, but his unwavering support of Bush and the Iraq war as well as his conservative firebrand style led to low approval ratings.
Like Santorum, Casey is an antiabortion Roman Catholic who opposes gun control and withdrawing troops from Iraq. But Casey called for more accountability in Iraq and campaigned hard on issues of key concern to the middle class: healthcare and education. Jennifer Duffy, a Senate election analyst with the Cook Political Report, says the Casey campaign was "brilliant" by remaining low key, not holding many debates, and not taking well-defined positions on some issues. "Santorum," she says, "was never really able to draw sharp contrasts with Casey."
The race was one of the costliest in Pennsylvania's history. But the $22 million raised by Santorum (compared with Casey's $16 million) was still not enough. Santorum's loss is expected to open up a battle in the Senate for Republican whip, a post Santorum was likely to fill. Possible contenders include Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Danielle Knight
Ohio: Sen.-elect Brown First Dem Since 1992 to Win Statewide Office
Long seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate, two-term Republican Mike DeWine fell yesterday to Sherrod Brown, the first Democrat to win statewide office in Ohio since 1992. With more than 67 percent of precincts reporting, Brown, a seven-term congressman, led DeWine by 54 percent to 46 percent. According to exit polls, Brown, who voted against the Iraq war, won overwhelming support from voters who disapproved of Bush and the Iraq war. Those voters accounted for more than half of the Buckeye State electorate.
DeWine's bruising defeat was most likely also due to local factors, including the loss of more than 160,000 Ohio manufacturing jobs since 2000 and scandals that have plagued the GOP, which has controlled the state legislature for more than 15 years. Outgoing Republican Gov. Bob Taft has pleaded guilty to corruption charges, while U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican, resigned after pleading guilty to charges in connection to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff earlier this year.
Leaving the news media to cover the stories of Republican corruption and the bad news from Iraq, Brown's campaign focused its ads on the economy, trumpeting the candidate's opposition to free trade agreements, the subject of his 2004 book Myths of Free Trade. He vowed to raise the minimum wage and showcased his votes to increase funding for college loans. "So many have stood up for the middle class and together we're going to turn around Ohio," Brown told supporters Tuesday night.