GOP gains House seats; tea party favorites thrive |

GOP gains House seats; tea party favorites thrive


WASHINGTON (AP) – Republicans picked up Senate seats in Indiana and Arkansas and toppled House incumbents in three states in midterm elections Tuesday night, early fruits of a drive to break the Democrats’ grip on power in Congress.

Tea party favorites Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida coasted to easy Senate victories, overcoming months of withering Democratic attacks on their conservative views, but Christine O’Donnell was trounced in Delaware.

All 435 seats in the House were on the ballot, plus 37 in the Senate in an election shadowed by recession and stirred by a rebellion of tea party conservatives.

An additional 37 governors’ races gave Republicans ample opportunity for further gains halfway through President Barack Obama’s term.

House Republicans brimmed with confidence that they would pick up the 40 seats needed to take control of the House and install Rep. John Boehner as the new speaker. “This is going to be a big day,” he said as he voted near his home in West Chester, Ohio. For those who think the government is spending too much and bailing out too many, he said, “This is their opportunity to be heard.”

Democrats conceded nothing. “Let’s go out there and continue to fight,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi exhorted supporters in remarks before television cameras while the polls were still open in much of the country.

But not long after she spoke, Democratic incumbents in both houses began falling.

The first to go was Sen. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, defeated by Rep. John Boozman in her bid for a third term.

In the House, Republicans sent Rep. Rick Boucher to defeat in Virginia; Suzanne Kosmas in Florida, too.

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