Ag Policy Blog

Republicans Sweep Key Senate Races

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Much like the 2010 midterm elections, Democrats got shellacked across the country in several key Senate races, ceding the Senate to a Republican majority after eight years of Democratic control.

For agriculture, a GOP-led Congress could push back on environmental regulations. Agriculture and business groups also could see a needed break in gridlock in Congress over trade-promotion authority that would allow the Obama administration to cut key trade deals that at least some leaders in the president's party have opposed.

Republicans picked up seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia to shift the Senate to Republican majority on Tuesday with at least 52 seats. Eyes will be on Alaska to see how that race turns out.

The GOP was able declare a majority after news organizations called North Carolina and Iowa for Republicans. Rep. Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House, defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

In Iowa, state Sen. Joni Ernst, a National Guard commander, defeated U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been the minority leader, but now looks to be the presumed majority leader in 2015. McConnell has been a staunch opponent of President Obama but seemed to offer a small olive branch for compromise in his victory speech Tuesday evening.

"We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree," McConnell said in a televised victory speech. "I think we have a duty to do that. Just because we have a two-party system doesn't mean we have to be in perpetual conflict. I think I have shown that to be true at critical times in the past. I hope the president gives me a chance to show it again."

In a critical race for the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, fended off a tough re-election campaign. Roberts is considered a likely candidate to chair the Senate Ag Committee next year because Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran may opt to chair another committee.

Senate Races:

*Arkansas: Rep. Tom Cotton defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.

*Colorado: Rep. Cory Gardner defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Georgia: David Perdue, a Republican businessman, defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn and avoided a potential runoff by capturing 50% of the vote in race to replace Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

*Iowa: State Sen. Joni Ernst defeated Rep. Bruce Braley in the seat to replace Sen. Tom Harkin.

Kansas: Incumbent Republican Pat Roberts held off incumbent Greg Orman

Louisiana: Incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu will go to a December runoff against Rep. Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel and a favorite among grassroot Republicans.

*Montana: Rep. Steve Daines won the seat vacated by Democratic Sen. John Walsh.

Nebraska: Republican Ben Sasse, a university president, won the Senate race vacated by Republican Sen. Mike Johanns.

*North Carolina: State Rep. Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

*South Dakota: Former Gov. Mike Rounds took the Senate seat vacated by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson

Virginia: Incumbent Mark Warner appears to have defeated Republican Ed Gillespie at midnight Eastern time.

*West Virginia: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito took the seat vacated by Sen. John Rockefeller.

*Republicans wins in states held by Democratic incumbents.

House Races

In the House, the one major surprise was Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., a member of the House Agriculture Committee, losing the 2nd District in Florida. Southerland lost to Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of Bob Graham, a former governor and senator in Florida.

Southerland was one of the few defeats among Republican incumbent House members. However, in Nebraska, eight-term incumbent Rep. Lee Terry, was down in a tight race late in the evening.

Among Democrats on the House Ag Committee, Rep. William Enyart of Illinois lost to Republican Mike Bost, a state legislator. Among the full House caucus, at least eight incumbent Democrats lost.

Democrats got swept out of their few remaining southern congressional and Senate seats. Rep. Rick Rahall, a congressman since 1977, lost his district in West Virginia as did Rep. John Barrow of Georgia.

Biotech Labeling Measures Lose

In the push to label food ingredients from biotech crops, Colorado's Proposition 105 appeared to lose at the polls 68-32. Oregon's similar biotech labeling measure also appeared to fail, though at a closer margin.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN.


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Brandon Butler
11/6/2014 | 12:17 PM CST
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Don Thompson
11/6/2014 | 9:57 AM CST
Alaska has the highest energy costs in the states. Not sure what a couple more pipelines would do. Are pipelines free to install? On Wednesday the energy stocks were generally up a lot. Good for my IRA!! However, the GASBUDDY app on my phone sent an alert midafternoon that gas prices would be rising, despite the fact that world oil prices have been declining. $4 billion special interest money buying election does appear to be a good investment for the moneyed interests.
Bonnie Dukowitz
11/6/2014 | 9:29 AM CST
No merit to your statement,Jay. Oil is a world wide pool. The U S imports from around the world while exporting from Alaska. Build a pipeline from Alaska to the Midwest and many local issues would go away.
11/6/2014 | 8:43 AM CST
And it is the Keystone XL (no -, Jay) pipeline. And my guess is that Jay doesn't know we have refineries at the coast and it would be processed product that would be exported. If Canada wanted to ship it straight to China they would, just like they said they would if we didn't buy it, by building a pipeline to their west coast. Apparently the schools in White Hall don't spend a lot of time teaching their students how to properly research facts.
Jay Mcginnis
11/5/2014 | 12:55 PM CST
It is the X-L pipeline, not exel Paul. It is to transport oil to the Gulf to be put on ships and export to China and other countries. In order for Canadian tar sand to be processed into oil prices need to be high. Just a few overlooked facts that Hanity and Rush ignore but the GOP does like to cut money for education for a reason,,,, obviously.
Paul Beiser
11/5/2014 | 10:26 AM CST
Here comes the exel pipe line and cheap energy for a generation :)