The opposition Republican Party is poised to win control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s congressional elections, dealing a serious blow to President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party.
Republicans are expected to gain more than the 39 seats needed to take control of the House. They picked up seats in the Senate as well but U.S. news agencies say the Republicans will fall short of the 10 seats needed to gain control of the chamber.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, who is expected to be the next House speaker, says the American people are demanding a new way forward. In an emotional speech in Washington, he said the Republican majority would take a new approach, including cutting spending, reducing the size of government and reforming the way Congress works.
The economy was the main issue of concern for voters, and exit polls showed that many Americans expressed negative views, not only about Mr. Obama, but both political parties as well. With unemployment near 10 percent, concerns about the economy have helped energize Republicans and support of the conservative Tea Party movement.
Tea Party-aligned Republicans posted victories in Senate elections, including Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida. Republicans also picked up several Senate seats held by Democrats. But in a key race in the western state of Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, is projected to have won a tough challenge against Tea Party-supported Republican candidate Sharron Angle.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 Senate seats were at stake in the elections.
In other results, Republican Mark Kirk won the Senate seat in Illinois once held by President Barack Obama.
Wins for the Democratic Party included Senate races in Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Vermont, as well as West Virginia, where Governor Joe Manchin won the contest in a tough campaign. Chris Coons won the Senate race in Delaware over Tea Party favorite Republican Christine O’Donnell. Barbara Boxer is projected to have kept her Senate seat in the competitive race against Republican Carly Fiorina – a former chief executive officer of the Hewlett-Packard company.
At an evening rally in Washington, the current speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said her fellow Democrats campaigned on moving the country in a new direction and not on what she described as the failed policies of the past.
The Tea Party is a loosely organized but vocal movement calling for lower taxes and less government spending.
In Alaska, a Republican senator is hoping to hold onto her seat, after losing her party’s nomination to Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller. Lisa Murkowski, who is running as an independent, is instructing her supporters to write-in her name on the ballot, in the three-way race with Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams.
Thirty-seven states are also holding races for governor. The wins include Republican Nikki Haley in South Carolina, who is to become the state’s first female governor, and Republican Susana Martinez, who is to make history as the first Hispanic woman elected state chief executive.
There are several important contests in the state of California, including a race to replace outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Former state Governor Jerry Brown won that contest over Republican Meg Whitman, the former head of the online auction company eBay. Residents of the west coast state also rejected a a measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use. California already allows the narcotic to be used for medical purposes. VOA