In the End, Pivotal Races Tipped to Democrats
With the two having faced off in three consecutive elections, the race was intensely negative and personal. And in this inexpensive media market, more than $9 million was spent, evidence of how crucial both parties view the district. President Bush staged a rally in late October, as did the first lady.
Ultimately, though, it was unhappiness with the status quo that helped put Hill over the top, swinging the state's delegation from seven Republicans and two Democrats to five Democrats and four Republicans. At a celebration party last night in Seymour, Hill said, "The people of the Ninth District are going to get the change they deserve."
Though the combatants engaged in such frequent squabbling that Libertarian candidate Eric Schansberg accused them both of "acting like 4-year-olds," Hill gained traction by separating himself from Sodrel on such hot button issues as raising the minimum wage and staging an exit strategy for Iraq. Hill supports deadlines for Iraqis and a staged withdrawal. With 98.9 percent of precincts reporting, Hill had 49.3 percent of the vote. Sodrel had 46.2 percent. Bret Schulte
Ohio Sixth: Democrat Wilson Easily Wins Vacant House Seat
Ted Strickland won the governorship of Ohio and the Democrats were able to easily hold his vacant congressional seat, as Charlie Wilson beat Republican Speaker pro tem Chuck Blasdel. Wilson took 61 percent of the vote. With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday, Wilson was up by 45,000 votes.
The district sits on the eastern edge of Ohio in the critical nexus of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Wilson carried all nine counties, polling especially well near cities including Steubenville and East Liverpool.
After stumbling early in the primary and having to run as a write-in for his party's nomination, Wilson never looked back. Polls had predicted a Wilson victory, though by a considerably smaller margin. Wilson benefited from endorsements from popular state Democrats, while Blasdel struggled to make his messages on illegal immigration and the economy resonate with voters. Wilson outspent his opponent, raising $1,742,264, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Blasdel raised $1,061,136. Alex Kingsbury
Pennsylvania Sixth: Republican Incumbent Gerlach Wins Close One in Rematch
The national electoral map may have changed, but Pennsylvania's Sixth District stayed pretty much the same. By early Wednesday morning, with votes still being counted, Congressman Jim Gerlach appears to have held off Democrat Lois Murphy by around 3,000 votes. Gerlach is no stranger to squeakers. He won his first race for state representative by a mere 23 votes and edged out Murphy by fewer than 6,000 votes in 2004.
According to available results, as predicted, the difference was Berks County and the city of Reading, where Gerlach led Murphy by 6,000 votes. Gerlach also appeared to carry the key areas around Coatesville and Phoenixville, while Murphy won some 60 percent of the vote in Montgomery County, including Norristown.
This had been one of the nation's closest races and was expected to fall to the Democrats if the party swept the House. Early returns suggested that Murphy might maintain a few thousand-vote lead. But as Tuesday stretched into Wednesday, Gerlach surged.