Democrats Retain Control Of U.S. Senate

Nov 7, 2012
Originally published on November 7, 2012 10:31 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Ohio voters also reelected Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. His was one of many Democratic seats the Republicans once hoped to capture as they drove to win a Senate majority. They were favored at the start, but fell short, as NPR's David Welna reports.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The headline may be that Democrats remain in charge of the Senate, but the story of this year's Senate races is largely about women. A record 18 of them contested Senate seats, and in three states - Hawaii, California and New York - the Democrats and Republicans on the ballots were all women. Democrats won all three. It was also a night of firsts for women, nowhere more so than in Wisconsin, where Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin defeated former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.

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WELNA: To which she added...

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WELNA: And here in Missouri, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill easily won reelection by beating GOP Congressman Todd Akin. He'd been considered a shoe-in to win the seat until he declared in August that a woman could resist becoming pregnant in cases of what he called legitimate rape. Last night, McCaskill chided what she called the political chattering classes who'd earlier forecast her demise.

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WELNA: And another Republican Senate candidate in Indiana may have sealed his defeat with remarks about rape. Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite who defeated long-time incumbent Dick Luger in the GOP primary, lost after declaring that pregnancies resulting from rape are God's will. Even, in conceding defeat, he did not back down.

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WELNA: Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly, who beat Mourdock, said people in this state opted for bipartisan cooperation.

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WELNA: One bright spot for Republicans last night was Nebraska, where GOP rancher and State Senator Deb Fischer won the seat occupied by retiring Democrat Ben Nelson. In Arizona, Republican Congressman Jeff Flake won the seat being vacated by Republican Senator Jon Kyl, and vowed to keep crusading for fiscal austerity.

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WELNA: But Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who last night defeated Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, had a very different message.

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WELNA: And despite being outspent nearly three-to-one by GOP challenger Josh Mandel and groups supporting Mandel, Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown got reelected. Last night, Brown derided the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates of unlimited campaign spending.

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WELNA: Although Democrats did far better last night than expected, less clear is whether the gridlocked Senate they've been in charge of will also do better. David Welna, NPR News, St. Louis.

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