Republicans take the Senate, Roberts headed to Senate Ag Committee

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2014 - In a series of hard-fought battles, Republicans won control of the Senate Tuesday night by securing major re-election victories for Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, while winning at least seven U.S. Senate seats that had previously been held by Democrats.

Republicans won seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia and kept a GOP grip on Georgia where businessmen David Perdue handily defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn, by 56 to 42 percent, respectively.

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But the outcome of some races is still uncertain. In Virginia, GOP challenger Ed Gillespie seemed poised to upset incumbent Sen. Mark Warner late in the night, but with about 99 percent of the votes counted, Warner was ahead by about 13,000 votes. That race could be headed for a recount.

The New Hampshire Senate race, with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown challenging incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the margin was even smaller for a few hours. However, Brown conceded around midnight.

In Louisiana, neither Democrat incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu or GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy crossed the 50 percent threshold needed to win, so that race moves to a runoff on Dec. 6.

As of 1:30 am, Alaska election results were still being finalized. With almost 50 percent of the votes counted, Republican Dan Sullivan was running ahead of Democratic incumbent Mark Begich.

Republicans needed to gain six seats to win a Senate majority for 2015, but they also couldn't afford to lose any incumbents. And that meant Roberts - who was seeking his fourth term in the U.S. Senate and is likely to be the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee - couldn't afford to lose to businessman Greg Orman, who ran as an independent and refused to say whether he would caucus with either party.

After the Democratic candidate dropped out of the race, Orman held a small lead in the majority of the polls up until the election - that's despite a game-changing GOP “reset” to the Roberts campaign and a steady stream of GOP heavy hitters, like former Sen. Bob Dole, crossing the state to campaign on his behalf. The state that has consistently elected Republicans to the Senate since 1932 but, voters who were just plain fed up with gridlock in Congress seemed increasingly willing to give Orman a try.

On Tuesday night, voters in some of the more urban parts of the state near Kansas City provided Orman with an early lead.

However, Roberts still managed to beat Orman on his home turf on the southern edge of Kansas City in Johnson County - home to more Republicans and Independents than any other region of the state - by about 2,500 votes. And with support from organizations like the Kansas Farm Bureau, voters in the western and more rural parts of the state weighed in heavily for Roberts, giving him a 53 percent to 43 percent margin of victory.  

While noting that he learned a lot throughout the tough campaign, Roberts told cheering supporters at his victory party in Topeka he was “deeply humbled” by the outcome.

“I've heard my marching orders loud and clear,” Roberts emphasized in a fiery tone. “I will be bold, I will be conservative and I will be constructive. And I promise you this, we will get things done.”

“The eyes of the nation were on Kansas….. the country was counting on us to help deliver a Republican majority and we delivered,” he added.

Roberts, who previously chaired the House Committee on Agriculture from 1995-1997, said he would be the next chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and “we will put farmers and ranchers first.”

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