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#1

McCain concedes race to Giffords in historic upset
New York Times | November 3, 2010, 14:20 EST

Senator John McCain of Arizona has conceded to his opponent Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the race to keep hold of the senate seat which he first won in 1986, and which has been in Republican hands since 1968. This result effectively gives Democrats 51 seats in the senate (Senator Bernard Sanders sits as an independent but caucuses with the Democrats), however it is not the final undecided race to be called, as Missouri is currently being decided between Republican Sarah Steelman and Democrat Robin Carnahan.

Senator McCain, who was a presidential contender in 2000 and 2008, as well as a runner up pick for Secretary of State after Condoleeza Rice's resignation earlier this year, has declined his legal right to a recount. Mark Salter, McCain's Chief of Staff, told the NYT:

"The Senator does not want to subject the people of Arizona to a long and arduous recount process which would damage the integrity of the electoral process for the small chance of victory."

Senator McCain delivered his concession speech earlier this morning. "My friends, this state has given me over 30 years of trust in Congress and for that I am eternally grateful," he said, later thanking his opponent for "her brilliant networking campaign, which reached out to men and women all across our state. I may disagree with Mrs. Giffords on a good deal of issues, but I think she will be a wonderful senator and I hope she does the best job for Arizona that she possibly can."

It was noted by many analysts this morning that Senator McCain would be unlikely to close the 6,000 vote gap separating him and Congresswoman Giffords, especially with many votes coming in likely from Maricopa County, which voted overwhelmingly Democratic.

Mrs. Giffords addressed supporters in Pheonix, promising "not to let Arizona's forgotten men and women down."

Mrs. Giffords is a two-term congresswoman and has pledged to do more than simply oppose President Frist's policy agenda. "I am here today, humbled by the wonderful result we have received. I am going straight to Washington and my first priority is fixing the economic mess which has put millions of Arizonans in dire straits."
 
#9

THE WINS AND THE NEAR-MISSES; THE MAKING OF THE REPUBLICAN WAVE (PART II: THE SENATE)

1) California - California is obviously not a high priority for Republicans anymore, with President Gore clearing 60% of the vote there in 2004. However, with Senator Dianne Feinstein getting up there in age and with San Fransisco Matt Gonzales rumoured to be making a third party bid, some GOP insiders considered the seat a potential pickup if everything went the right way. Gonzales declined a bid and instead the Green Party put forward a less than known candidate. In addition, it appeared that despite the closeness of the Gubernatorial fight to succeed Gray Davis, Republican candidate Bill Mundell failed to rally voters against the generally popular Feinstein, who won with just under 54% to win a third term in office.
1) Connecticut - Vice President Lieberman's home state was home to what was (almost!) the closest race of the year with Congressman Chris Shays challenging incumbent Senator Richard Blumenthal, who beat out interim Senator Jodi Rell in a contentious 2002 race that featured Vice President Lieberman as a prominent player. Blumenthal had caught flak for questions about his supposed record in Vietnam. It turns out that Blumenthal had greatly exaggerated his war record, something that received much criticism from other prominent veterans, such as Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and even President Gore himself. Shays' campaign, which at that point seemed a little stale, was reinvigorated as he went on the attack. The Democrats were (quite successfully, it appears) trying to link Shays to the House GOP leadership, which was quite unpopular in Connecticut. Ultimately though Blumenthal carried the day with a 5,000 vote margin, produced after a recount at the Shays campaign's request. Shays was hurt further when his own congressional seat flipped to the Democrats.
Delaware (special) - This was an election that never came to be. The certainty of Congressman Mike Castle's candidacy ultimately nixed Senator Joe Biden's Secretary of State role.
Florida - In spite of Senator George Allen's serious issues on the ticket, Republicans came startlingly close to winning Florida in 2004. Following on from this, the national party made gains in Florida a key target, with the Senate seat considered especially. After popular governor and rumoured Presidential contender Jeb Bush bowed out of the race to go up against Bill Nelson, Republicans opted to hand the nomination to a rising star by the name of Mark Foley. Big mistake. Though the Foley campaign initially appeared to be polling very well, leading Senator Nelson in some polls, the revelations late in the game that he had engaged in sexually suggestive messaging with underage Congressional pages secured Nelson's re-election. Attempts to remove Foley from the ballot were unsuccessful, though a write in campaign for Secretary of State Katherine Harris picked up 5%. The Foley scandal is considered to have also had an impact in other Senate races where Democrats held on narrowly, as the linking of the Republican party to a pedophile proved to be unsurprisingly damaging.
Maryland - This was a pretty pathetic loss for Democrats, who suffered from a divisive primary that featured not only Montgomery Council President Tom Perez, but also Congressmen Kweisi Mifume & Ben Cardin, State Senate Majority Whip Anthony Brown, and former County Executive Dennis Rasmussen. The ultimate victor was little known historian Allan Lichtman, famous for his Keys To The White House model of political predictions, who proved to be totally hapless on the campaign trail, especially against Maryland GOP Chairman Michael Steele, who proved to be an energetic campaigner, and pulled out a decent victory, becoming Maryland's first black senator.
Michigan - This was another comfortable state for Gore in 2004, and many commentators considered Senator Stabenow a near lock for re-election. That all changed with the entry of Domino's CEO and University of Michigan regent Dave Brandon. Considered a star candidate, the field was cleared for him by the state GOP. His self-funding talent resulted in much trouble for Stabenow, who was forced to tap into state party coffers to get her over the finish line. Brandon's entrepreneur message won over Michigan Republicans, who turned out in droves to give him a close victory.
Minnesota - A serious missed opportunity for Republicans who had what could've been a dream ticket this year with Governor Norm Coleman running for re-election and State Representative Tim Pawlenty making his second bid for the Senate after narrowly losing to Paul Wellstone in 2002. Minnesota is the home of Supreme Court Justice Amy Klobuchar, and was instrumental in securing Gore's re-election. Senator Mark Dayton took the decision to retire, citing his dissatisfaction with D.C. and gridlock. Democrats nominated Congresswoman Patty Wetterling, who narrowly triumphed against Trial Lawyer Mike Ciresi in the primary. Republicans nominated Pawlenty quite easily after former Senator Rod Grams dropped out. The general was closely fought with big names called in on both sides, including former contenders George Allen and George W. Bush. The race came down to a recount, as with Connecticut, with Congresswoman Wetterling pulling through after absentee ballots from St. Paul were taken into account. Republicans were quick to blame the independent candidacy of Thomas Harens, who took more votes than the margin between the two main candidates.
Missouri - Senator Mel Carnahan certainly considered himself in danger as far back as 2004, when his state gave George Allen a clear majority of the vote. Numerous Republicans were lining up to challenge him, including former Congressman Jim Talent, State Senator Peter Kinder, and Secretary of State Matt Blunt. Blunt would square off against Kinder in the primary, eventually winning out. Carnahan "fought like hell," to quote a Gore adviser, to avoid losing an inevitable defeat. It was a valiant effort but Blunt's great fundraising and appeal to Republican voters helped him win by a comfortable margin.
Nebraska - This race was blown wide open by the entrance of Governor Mike Johanns, who was hugely popular and would prove to be a vicious foe for Senator Ben Nelson, who had to pivot to the right to keep some of his Republican donors, attacking President Gore's cap-and-trade plan and voting against Attorney General nominee Eric Holder. The revelation that money was being sent to the estates of dead farmers in late 2006 helped dent Democratic numbers
New Jersey - Whoever thought Jon Corzine would appeal to anyone should be locked up. One of the most unpopular senators in the country, and only just about surviving a primary challenge from State Senator Nia Gill, he went up against a well-funded and well-liked Republican candidate in Tom Kean Jr., son of the eponymous governor who still holds some sway in the state. Dissatisfaction with Governor Jim McGreevy likely played a part in Corzine's eventual blowout defeat.
New Mexico - President Gore is still surely smarting over his decision to appoint Jeff Bingaman as his Energy Secretary in 2005. Bingaman had to give up his Senate seat to do so, and under New Mexico election law, a replacement is appointed and would face election at the next general election. Governor Richardson appointed State Representative to the seat. While initially seen as a strong choice, King suffered immensely from accusations of nepotism. Republicans seized the moment and recruited popular Congresswoman Heather Wilson, whose more moderate tone seemed to work well in a state that was moving to the left. King would, in a stunner, lose the primary to Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, who was encouraged to run by a regretful Richardson. Poor messaging by the DNC and low hispanic turnout resulted in a close victory for Wilson.
North Dakota - The retirement of long-serving Senator Kent Conrad left an opening for the extremely popular Governor John Hoeven, who was practically begged by the GOP establishment to run. Recruitment on the Democratic side was a flat joke, with both Heitkamps as well as Earl Pomeroy declining, and instead the party turned to commentator Ed Schultz, who had previously considered running for the House as a Republican. Schultz ran a bombastic campaign lambasting his former party as "nigh-on goosesteppers" who were "desperate for war." This strategy would not work out for him and Governor Hoeven won in a landslide.
Pennsylvania - Rick Santorum was deemed the only "at-risk" Republican senator in 2006, and Democrats were eager to oust one of the right's key men in GOP leadership. Governor Bob Casey and Chief of Staff Ed Rendell were not interested in the fight, choosing to continue on in their current roles. Furthermore, Lieutenant Governor Catherine Knoll proved uninspiring in the primary. The task to take on Santorum ultimately fell to pro-abortion activist Kate Michelman. Michelman's candidacy provoked the GOP and anti-abortion groups into action, keeping Santorum afloat as much as they could. A very tight and very bitter race would ensue. The last minute revelation of recordings of Michelman campaign workers mocking Santorum's children proved to tilt the balance in favour of the GOP, and Santorum narrowly pulled one out.
Washington - Weak candidate recruitment in former RNC member Diane Tebelius proved ineffective even with Governor Rossi's strong campaigning.
Wisconsin - What was initially perceived as a genius move proved to fall flat on its face as Assemblyman Scott Walker was chided on charges of incompetence and failed to make a case against popular Senator Herb Kohl.