Election Night: Democrats Unite; Republicans Scatter

Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:10am

Updated: Oct. 27, 3:08 p.m.

In what is likely to be a dark and somber election night for Republicans, Senate GOP leaders are planning to stay in their home states, while Democratic leaders are preparing for a big bash in the nation’s capital.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will remain in the Bluegrass State on Nov. 4. The top Senate Republican is fending off a challenge from a well-financed Democrat, Bruce Lunsford, for the seat that he has held for 24 years.

Two other members of the GOP leadership team also are up for re-election this cycle — Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Conference Vice Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) — prompting them to also stay close to home on election night.

Alexander will be in Nashville, Tenn., while Cornyn is planning to be in Austin, Texas, at a state Republican Party event. GOP Policy Committee Chairwoman Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), who isn’t up until 2012 and has announced she will not seek re-election at that time, is expected to be in Dallas, where she lives.

Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) also plans to be at home when the final votes are counted. Kyl is likely to appear with his home-state colleague and GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain on Nov. 4. On the House side, Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) plans for election night are still up in the air, while Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) all plan to be in their districts.

House Republicans stressed that party leaders decided to split up because they are focused on securing their own re-elections, not because they are hiding out in anticipation of a Democratic sweep.

“Members that are up for re-election should be in their districts,” one senior GOP aide said. “That’s why McConnell is in Kentucky and Alexander is in Tennessee. Reid isn’t up, so he can go wine and dine donors this cycle.”

While Senate Republicans scatter across the country, House and Senate Democratic leaders are planning to attend a major unity event in Washington, D.C., to await the results. Democrats held a similar party in 2006 when voters handed them control of both chambers of Congress.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are coordinating the Washington event. Top headliners include Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and the chairmen of the two campaign arms, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.). House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) also is likely to be there, according to a DCCC spokesman.

Expected to be absent from the fete, however, is Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who is up for re-election this cycle and serves as a close confidant to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). Durbin plans to hold his own get-together in Illinois and then head over to Grant Park in Chicago, where Obama will hold his own election event.