Washington, Nov. 8 (AP): Democrats won control of the House of Representatives early on Wednesday after a dozen years of Republican rule in a resounding repudiation of a war, a president and a scandal-scarred Congress.
“From sea to shining sea, the American people voted for change,” declared Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the hard-charging California Democrat in line to become the nation’s first female House leader, known as the speaker.
“Today we have made history,” she said, “now let us make progress.”
Faced with the inevitable, the White House made plans for President George W. Bush to call Pelosi first thing in the morning; he will enter his final two years in office with at least one chamber of Congress in the opposition party’s hands.
By early Wednesday, Democrats had won 221 seats, enough to control the House, and were leading for another 13, which would give them 234. Republicans, who hold 229 seats in the current House, won 181 and were leading in another 20, which would give them 201.
Democrats had won 25 Republican-controlled seats, and no Democratic incumbent had lost by early Wednesday. Races were too close to call in more than a dozen seats, making it impossible to know how large the Democratic margin would be.
Faced with the inevitable, the White House made plans for President George W. Bush to call Pelosi first thing Wednesday morning, and Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman called to congratulate Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and Emanuel.
“It’s been kind of tough out there,” conceded Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who won an 11th two-year term.
The magic number for control was 218 seats. By late Tuesday, Democrats had won 211 seats and were leading for another 22, which would give them 233. Republicans won 172 and were leading in 28.
Midway through the evening, Pelosi, a grandmother five times over, briefly addressed a crowd of party faithful at an election-night fete at a Washington hotel.
“I thank all of you for taking us to where we are tonight,” said Pelosi, who won an 11th term. As she left the stage, half the crowd started chanting “Madam Speaker” and the other shouting “Nancy, Nancy.”
Ethics woes, the war and overall anger toward Bush appeared to drive voters to the Democrats, according to surveys by The Associated Press and the television networks of voters as they left voting places. Several traditionally hard-fought demographic groups were choosing Democrats, including independents, moderates, the middle class and suburban women.
Hillary Clinton re-elected
Former first lady Hillary Clinton was today re-elected to the US Senate for her second term opening the way for a potential presidential run in 2008.
Clinton, who beat her immediate rival Republican John Spencer from New York, ran the costliest campaign with nearly USD 30 million, prompting analysts to say her victory was a “forgone conclusion.”
The former American first lady’s campaign seemed nothing more than “a dress rehearsal” for her Presidential bid, they said.
During the campaign, Clinton was often asked whether she would complete her term or make a bid for the White House to which her reply was that she was focussing on the Senate and had not decided the presidential bid yet.
Clinton’s victory was significant as she won hands down, without promising to complete her term, a point her challenger John Spencer had made a campaign issue.
While the Democrat Senator was able to raise USD 35 million, her rival Spencer, a Republican managed a measely USD 4 million. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, often joined Hillary on the campaign trail.
As it became clear that she was heading for a landslide victory, Clinton said during campaign last week that Vice President Dick Cheney had said that regardless of the poll outcome, the administration would go “full steam ahead” in the same direction in Iraq.
“Well, I think the American people have said, not so fast,” she added.
All 435 House seats were on the ballot, and most incumbents won easy re-election. The current lineup: 229 Republicans, 201 Democrats, one independent who lines up with the Democrats for organizational purposes, and four vacancies, three of them in seats formerly held by Republicans.