Sunday, September 24, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Sunday, September 24, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Republicans Retain Control of U.S. Senate

(CN) - The Republican Party retained control of the U.S. Senate on a huge night for the GOP. They won at least six of nine hotly contested races that threatened to switch control to the Democrats.

With Donald Trump now president-elect and the House safely remaining in Republican hands, the federal government will be dominated by the GOP's agenda for the foreseeable future.


Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Patrick Murphy in a closely watched race by operatives on both sides of the aisle.

Rubio, who stumbled in the race for the Republican nominee for President, fended off a strong challenge from the Democratic challenger.

Rubio vowed not to run for his Senate seat during his presidential campaign, but hopped back into the race after it became clear that Republican voters favored Donald Trump.

A conservative Cuban-American from Miami, Rubio first became Senator in 2010 after running on the Tea Party platform and attacking the incumbent as establishment.

Murphy is a business man, and Democratic Congressman, who attempted to exploit Rubio's wavering attitudes regarding Trump, his spotty Senate attendance record and his flip-flopping on comprehensive immigration reform.

Ultimately it proved unavailing.


In what qualifies as an unsurprising result, Republican Rob Portman soundly drubbed his Democratic counterpart Ted Strickland.

Strickland, a former Ohio governor, was consistently behind in the polls and the Democratic party apparatus, which had a rough night in general, pulled their money out of this race months ago, leaving the candidate an uphill battle.

Portman proved particularly adept at distancing himself from Trump's more unsavory moments on the campaign trail without alienating the presidential candidate's passionate and vociferous supporters.

Ohio also went in favor of Trump by nearly 10 percentage points, by some early estimates, perhaps demonstrating the Rust Belt's exasperation with the status quo.

White working class voters in Ohio abandoned the Democratic Party in droves, as was the case in many other state in the Midwest.

North Carolina

Richard Burr, the incumbent in the race, staved off a strong challenge from Democrat Deborah Ross.

Ross, the former director of North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union, attempted to tie Burr to the old GOP guard, calling him a Washington insider beholden to lobbyists and corporate interests.

Ross had to fend of ties to her pass as a civil liberties lawyer, including defending flag burners and opposing a registry for sex offenders.

North Carolina, identified by many as a red state that could break blue, particularly after the passage of HB2, a controversial law removing anti-discrimination protections for members of the LGBT community, ultimately re-elected its two-time Republican Senator and broke for Trump in the presidential election.


In something of a surprise, incumbent Ron Johnson held on to his seat, fending off Democratic challenger Russ Feingold, a progressive luminary who served three terms in the Senate prior to be unseated by Johnson. Democrats looked to this race as a real opportunity to make hay in their bid to retake the Senate, a bid that ultimately fell short.

Johnson, a former plastics manufacturer, attempted to paint Feingold as a phony politician, which proved effective during a year where political outsiders were favored by American voters.

Feingold led in the polls for most of the race, attempted to connect Johnson to Trump, which in hindsight was a mistake.


In a closely-watched race that effectively cemented the GOP's bid to retain control of the Senate, Pat Toomey, the Republican incumbent, beat Katie McGinty, the Democratic challenger.

As happened in Wisconsin, the Democrat tried to gain traction in the race by tying her Republican opponent to

Trump's frequent vulgarities and gaffes. But just as in Wisconsin, the strategy didn't take.

Toomey, much like Portman in Ohio, managed to distance himself from Trump's campaign, while not alienating Trump's rabid supporters, maintaining that Pennsylvania voters could trust him as the incumbent.


One bright spot in an otherwise brutal night for the Democratic Party, Tammy Duckworth unseated incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.

Kirk attempted to tack to a more moderate position, supporting modest gun control measures, and even chastising fellow Senate Republicans for refusing to vote for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran who lost both her legs while piloting a helicopter. She campaigned largely on veteran's issues, and has served in Congress since 2012.


In another anomalous piece of good news for Democrats, Catherine Cortez Masto won the right to replace Harry Reid as the Senator for the Silver State.

Masto, who becomes the first Latina Senator was the hand-picked successor to Reid, who lent his significant ground game to the candidate.

Masto accomplished what Democrats across the nation failed to — mobilize the Latino vote and use Trump's racially charged language to ding a down-ballot candidate.

Rep. Joe Heck, a doctor and a brigadier general in the U.S. Army, was elected to the House in 2010 as part of the reactionary wave against Obama's presidency. He struggled to distance himself from Trump and ended up being one of the few casualties of a Democratic strategy to tie all GOP candidates to the failings of the party's presidential nominee.


In another closely-watched race, incumbent Republican Roy Blunt fended off a challenge from Democrat Jason Kander.

Kander was seen as a strong campaigner and his chances of winning got a boost from the now-debunked perception that Trump would be a liability to down-ballot candidates.

Again, Democrats struggled to move beyond hitting Trump to make this race about issues. Kander attempted to tie Blunt to Washington and insider interests.

Blunt responded by attempting to tie Kander to voter's negative perception of Hillary Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness. Blunt prevailed.


In what turned out to be a predictive triumph for Republicans, Todd Young beat Democrat Evan Bayh in the race to replace Senator Dan Coats, who is retiring from public office.

Bayh is the former governor of Indiana and the son of Birch Bayh, a former Senator and a scion of Hoosier political royalty.

Young successfully painted Bayh as disinterested in Indiana politics, as Bayh left the Senate six years ago and instead of repairing to his home state, elected to get a job as a lobbyist in Washington D.C.

Young used this to paint Bayh as a Washington insider more interested in his career than he is in the problems of voters in Indiana.

Follow @@MatthewCRenda
Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.