Democrats Now Up Four Senate Seats

Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:04pm

Voters handed Republican Sens. John Sununu (N.H.) and Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) their walking papers on Tuesday night, while Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was leading wealthy businessman Bruce Lunsford (D), according to multiple news reports.

In New Mexico, Rep. Tom Udall (D) has just been declared the winner over Rep. Steve Pearce (R) in the open seat race to replace retiring Rep. Pete Domenici (R).

With Dole and Sununu headed for the the door, Udall’s win, and with former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) poised to replace retiring Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Senate Democrats’ magic number — that is, the number of seats they must win tonight to reach the filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority — is now five.

Along with their three pick-ups so far, Democrats must win the open-seat contest in Colorado — which they’re favored to do — while knocking off four of five incumbents targeted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: Sens. Ted Stevens (Alaska), Gordon Smith (Ore.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

McConnell was clinging to a 4-point lead over Lunsford, according to several media reports. Another bright spot for Senate Republicans was Sen. Susan Collins’ (R) fairly easy victory over Rep. Tom Allen (D).

Meanwhile, with 16 percent of precincts reporting, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) was out in front of Rep. Jim Martin (D), 60 percent to 37 percent, according to the Georgia Secretary of State. Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley was garnering about 3 percent of the vote.

If neither Chambliss nor Martin take more the 50 percent of the vote, the two will square off in a Dec. 2 run-off.

Election officials in Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico closed the polls at 9 p.m. In the Centennial State, Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is facing former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) in an open seat Senate race, while Reps. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) are squaring off in the Land of Enchantment Senate contest. The two Udalls are favored to win their races.

In Minnesota, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) is up against comedian Al Franken (D) in a race where former Sen. Dean Barkley (I) is could play a major role.

In Oregon, where Sen. Gordon Smith (R) is being challenged by state House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D), polls will close at 11 p.m. Eastern time. And in Alaska, voters have until 1 a.m. to cast their ballots in the race between Sen. Ted Stevens (R) and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D).

Earlier in the evening in Virginia, Warner defeated his predecessor, former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R).