Republican Sen. Jon Kyl overcame a challenge by Democrat Jim Pederson, a businessman, to win reelection. Kyl, first elected in 1994, won by a wide margin in 2000 and made a big issue of immigration this year in the border state. He co-sponsored a bill that would require undocumented immigrants to leave the country and return through legal means. Pederson supported a bill by another Arizonan, Republican Sen. John McCain, that would have given many undocumented immigrants the chance to become citizens.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Benjamin Cardin overcame a strong campaign by Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and won the open seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes. The state has a Republican governor but is overwhelmingly Democratic. It voted for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, and Sarbanes won big in 2000. Cardin voted against the war in Iraq, but opposed a deadline for withdrawal. Steele said the situation in Iraq was a mess and blamed it on poor strategy within the Pentagon.
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow beat back a challenge from Republican Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard to win re-election. In a state with a struggling economy, Bouchard had promised to protect automakers and their employees with the "Triple A" Act, which would prevent lawsuits against automakers and suppliers if their cars met federal emissions standards at the time they were sold. Stabenow said she'd address the manufacturing-job losses by enforcing trade laws, lowering health costs and investing in education, job training and innovation.
In one of the most hotly contested races in the nation, Democrat Claire McCaskill, the state auditor, narrowly beat first-term incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent, who conceded defeat shortly after 2 a.m. EST. McCaskill ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2004. This year she's emphasizing support for stem-cell research. Actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, taped an ad for her on that issue. Talent narrowly lost his gubernatorial bid in 2000 but won the Senate seat in a 2002 special election. Iraq was the top issue in the state, with health care closely behind.
Jon Tester, an organic farmer and the president of the state Senate, was in a race with incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns that remained too close to call at 3 a.m. EST. The incumbent has struggled over his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. As the chairman of a key Senate appropriations committee, Burns stressed his ability to deliver federal aid to Montanans, but Tester tagged him a big spender who helped run up the largest federal budget deficits in history. Polls showed voters were most concerned about Iraq.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez bested Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. Menendez, a former U.S. House member who was appointed to this seat last December, faced an ethical firestorm for his involvement in suspect land deals. Kean was aided by his father, two-term former Gov. Thomas Kean. Iraq was by far the dominant issue.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown won the seat from Republican Sen. Mike DeWine. Republican scandals in the state that weren't connected to DeWine hurt him nonetheless, and the Republican National Committee had pulled its financial backing from the race. Brown, who's served in the House since 1992, is a health advocate and the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health. Voters here were more worried about the economy and jobs than in most states, owing to the woes of U.S. automakers and other manufacturers being hammered in the global economy.
Democrat Bob Casey Jr., the state treasurer and son of a former governor, ousted incumbent Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. Before Tuesday's balloting, about 43 percent of registered voters had unfavorable opinions of Santorum, the Senate's third-ranking Republican. Santorum, one of the Senate's most well-known opponents of abortion rights, was in the spotlight when he intervened in the Terri Schiavo case and visited her family at the hospice. The abortion issue was somewhat neutralized in the race because Casey also opposes abortion rights. Iraq was by far the biggest issue, with almost two-thirds of voters disapproving of President Bush's policy there.
Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse beat Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, surging past the incumbent in the last days of the campaign. Whitehouse is a former state attorney general and a U.S. attorney appointed by President Clinton. Chafee, a moderate, used anti-Bush rhetoric and distanced himself from the war, which was by far the foremost issue in the state. During the campaign, Whitehouse said he would have voted against the war and that he supported a "rapid and responsible" withdrawal. Forty-four percent in one recent poll said the United States should withdraw all its troops from Iraq.
Republican Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga, easily won election over Democratic U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. The seat was vacant with the retirement of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican. Corker held a statewide office after being appointed in 1995 to be commissioner of finance and administration. President Bush won this state in 2004, and Frist had a strong win in 2000. Iraq was the top issue, but people were divided over what to do. A late attack ad against Ford, who is black, featured a bare-shouldered blonde inviting him to "call me" and appeared to take a toll on his support.
A recount appears inevitable in Virginia, and the final outcome may not be known for weeks. Democrat Jim Webb, a Vietnam War veteran, popular war novelist and former Navy secretary under President Reagan, opened a 7,600-vote lead over incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen out of more than 2.3 million votes cast, with only 9 precincts still to report. Allen, who once held a big lead in polls, struggled to right his campaign amid accusations of racism after he called a Webb campaign staffer "macaca," considered by many to be a racial slur. Webb criticized the war in Iraq, while Allen backed it. A proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage might have drawn social conservatives to the polls and helped Allen.
Democratic incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell won re-election over Republican Mike McGavick, former chairman and chief executive officer of Safeco Co. Cantwell has unusually high approval ratings for an incumbent this year. Iraq was the key issue in the state, ranked first by nearly one-third of voters. In June, Cantwell voted in favor of withdrawing troops from Iraq without setting a firm deadline. McGavick said the United States needed to finish its job before it pulled out troops.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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