WASHINGTON -- The election will bring a host of fresh faces to Congress, but the control of the two chambers will remain the same: Republicans keep a majority in the House of Representatives, and Democrats hold onto control of the Senate.
Democrats swept some of the most attention-grabbing Senate contests, including the faceoff between incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democrat and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. Democrats are expected to retain their 53-47 edge, counting the Senate’s two independents as part of their total.
In Wisconsin, Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin bested popular Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson, becoming the first openly gay member of the Senate on a night when two states, Maine and Maryland, passed marriage equality measures. Baldwin won the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. With their victories and the apparent win in North Dakota by Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, a former state attorney general, a record number of women joined the male-dominated Senate.
They also include Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono and Republican Deb Fischer, a state senator who thwarted former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey’s quest to regain his seat.
In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown sailed to re-election, and in a closely watched race in Indiana, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly defeated Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock for the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Lugar. Mourdock, a tea party favorite who defeated Lugar in the Republican primary, slipped dramatically in the polls after he said that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”
Similarly, in Missouri, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, long thought to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents, defeated Republican Rep. Todd Akin, who created a controversy this summer when he said that women rarely got pregnant in case of “legitimate rape.” A lot of mainline Republican support deserted him as a result.
Democrats also retained Virginia’s Senate seat, as Tim Kaine defeated Republican George Allen, a former senator, in the battle of former Old Dominion governors. Kaine will fill the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.
Republicans kept the Arizona seat opened by the impending retirement of Sen. Jon Kyl after Rep. Jeff Flake defeated former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.
In Montana, Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, was expected to narrowly hold the seat in the face of a challenge from U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg. In Nevada, Republican Sen. Dean Heller defeated Democratic challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley.
Declaring victory, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Senate Democrats and Republicans to work together in the closing days of the current Congress and in the 113th Congress beginning in January.
“The strategy of obstruction, gridlock and delay was soundly rejected by the American people. Now, they are looking to us for solutions,” Reid said in a statement. “This is no time for putting things off until later. We can achieve things when we work together. And the middle class is counting on us to achieve big things in the months ahead.”
In the House, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will continue to wield the gavel. Democrats had hoped to make a dent at least in the Republican majority, and they unseated 12 Republican incumbents. But Republicans continue to hold the House, which they took over in 2010.