Last night, POLJUNK hosted its first live blogging event where we got hammered and talked shit as the returns came in. Well, we woke up today with a hangover, a new House, a new Senate, and a Democratic majority of governorships. Here's the rundown.
Two Senate seats remain in contention with Virginia and Montana [MT MAY have been called--ed.]still deemed too close to call, but the latest counts show Democrats in the lead in both races. If that holds, then the Democrats have taken the majority in all three levels of government that were up in this most crucial mid-term election cycle.
The gains in the House are the most dramatic. The Dems needed to pick up 15 seats to take control of the chamber and as of this morning, early returns show they have 28 seats confirmed and up to 34 possible. Control of the House is crucial to setting the agenda for the remaining two years of President Bush's term. Democrats now decide what issues get a vote and HOW they get to the floor. They also now have subpoena power, which is essential to oversight. We may never have the answers but we may now have one chamber of Congress willing to at least ask questions surrounding the use of intelligence in the run up to the war, the sickening practice of war profiteering and no-bid contracts, the creation of the President's energy policy, warrant less phone tapping, the execution of the war, and countless other Bush.Co screw ups.
As of 10:38 CST, two Senate seats remain up in the air. Montana and Virginia remain technically too close to call, but all projections show Democratic candidates in the lead in both races. If those projections prove out, Democrats will also capture the upper chamber of Congress. Democratic candidates in several close races took a page from the President's 2000 campaign playbook by calling early victories; dismissing the old tradition of allowing your opponent to concede. It's another lost nicety in American politics, but it's also how you win. The Supreme Court of the United States cited in their decision to give George W. Bush the presidency the idea that his legitimacy needed to be protected for the good of the country. Had Bush NOT declared victory (after originally conceding), there would have been no legitimacy to consider. It was a hard lesson the Democrats seem to have taken to heart and made their own pre-emptive declarations in order to establish themselves as the "legitimate" winners in their respective races.
Democrats also now hold a majority of governorships in theses United States now holding at least 28 of the Big Houses with two more yet to be decided. That's a gain of at least 6 executive slots and bodes well for Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential race. Biggest winner of the lot is New Mexico Governor and perennial almost-ran presidential candidate Bill Richardson who walloped his opponent and taking home 68% of the vote. That bolsters his position as a potential challenge to Hillary Clinton's bid to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Richardson is an enormously popular figure throughout the South, which is still considered essential to taking the White House.
Another big gubernatorial victory was Michigan's Jennifer Granholm who faced a fantastically well-funded challenge from Amway honcho, Dick DeVos. Having poured upwards of $27 million into his campaign, DeVos found the one thing in the state his money couldn't buy and sauntered back to Ada, Michigan to count his jets.
In a bit of 2004 election shenanigan payback, Rep. Ted Strickland won in Ohio, defeating Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who employed several questionable tactics in his role as Sec. of State during the 2004 election.
Sea change doesn't come often in American politics, which is usually a virtue. We have a slow, steady, sometimes frustrating change in government that keeps our republic stable, but also sometimes frustrates voters who feel their vote doesn't matter when change doesn't come quickly enough. But last night's routing of the Republican party can be seen as nothing less than a referendum on neo-conservative policy and rubber stamp oversight. The question no is will the Democrats be able to resist the temptation of retribution, which consumed the 1994 Republican Revolution and eventually cost them two Speakers of the House in their pathological pursuit of Bill Clinton. Nancy Pelosi has said impeachment was off the table, but she'll have a tough time reigning in the more militant members of her caucus who have been waiting 12 years to put the hurt on those who routinely shut them out of government. And how will Bush work with a congress not indebted to him nor in-step with his philosophy? His legacy is at stake and it'll be up to him how much of a lame duck he really is in these last two years. We've seen the divider (and the decider), maybe now's the time for the uniter to peek out from behind the curtain.