2010 Election Winners And Losers
Republicans increasing their power across the board—taking back control of the U.S. House, closing the gap with Democrats in the Senate, and capturing key governorships—it’s worth taking a closer look at how select races of special interest to business were decided. 2010 Senate/House/Governors Election Results
The House of Representatives
South Carolina-5: House Budget Chairman John Spratt lost to GOP state senator Mick Mulvaney in a district that hasn’t been represented by a Republican in more than a century. Spratt, who had been in the House since 1983, was far from being a liberal yet business groups waged an independent campaign against him and said he was a big supporter of “Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.”
Texas-17: Chet Edwards, a 20-year veteran who was part of a dwindling group of conservative Democrats called Blue Dogs, lost his re-election bid to oil and gas executive Bill Flores. Edwards, who had a bachelor’s in economics from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Harvard, was a commercial real estate agent and radio station owner before he got into politics. His standing as a conservative Democrat served him well for years—he even represented President George W. Bush’s district—but he couldn’t survive 2010. Replacing him is Flores, a political newcomer who said in his Tuesday victory that “the voters sent a clear message that they want a new Congress that will help the economy recover, remove barriers to private sector job creation and immediately reduce wasteful deficit spending.”
Georgia-8: Jim Marshall, another Blue Dog Democrat who was first elected in 2002, lost his bid for reelection despite being one of the few people of his party endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To help his chances, Marshall said on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should Democrats retain the majority.
West Virginia-3: One embattled Democrat who managed to win re-election was Nick Rahall, the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Rahall defeated Republican Elliott “Spike” Maynard, a trial judge, by a 56 percent to 44 percent advantage. “I won’t be in the driver’s seat, but I’ll be in the front seat,” Rahall said of his position on key committees. “I’ll still be a top Democrat.”
Massachusetts-4: Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and one of the chief authors of this year’s financial reform law, faced his toughest challenger in years. In the end, Frank easily defeated Sean Bielat, a Marine Corps reservist who got Tea Party support and the attention of the cable news networks. Frank, who will have to give up his chairmanship now that Democrats will be the minority party in the House, said his win was “a victory for a concept of government which eschews the anger and the vitriol and seeks to find practical solutions.”
Arkansas: Senator Blanche Lincoln couldn’t fight back GOP Representative John Boozman as she failed in her bid for a third term. Lincoln may have been chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee but she became known as a major foe of Wall Street as she fought for reform of derivatives. “I worked hard at reaching out to others to find that middle ground, to be that common sense and try to make our country great. I still don’t believe the answers are in the extremes,” she told supporters in her concession speech.
Wisconsin: Despite efforts in his Senate career to forge bipartisan agreements, especially over campaign finance reform, Senate Russ Feingold lost his bid for a fourth term to Ron Johnson, a political newcomer backed by the Tea Party. Johnson, CEO of polyester and plastics manufacturer PACUR LLC, campaigned on his business credentials. “We need to reverse course,” Johnson said in his victory speech. “The priority is straightforward, but the challenge is hard: To restore fiscal sanity to this nation.”
California: One bright spot for Democrats was the reelection win of Barbara Boxer over Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who had campaigned on her skills as a business executives. “This campaign was never about me, although I never saw so many horrible pictures of me,” said Boxer, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Connecticut: Linda McMahon, another Republican female CEO who had run on her business background, lost her race to state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. McMahon, who her opponent had criticized for some of her decisions leading World Wrestling Entertainment, spent millions on her campaign.
Illinois: This was the seat Barack Obama held before he got elected to the presidency in 2008, but Democrats couldn’t hold on to the seat. GOP Representative Mark Kirk defeated Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat.
South Carolina: Nicky Haley, a Tea Party candidate who had the strong backing of Sarah Palin, made history by becoming both the first female and the first Indian-American to become governor of the state. A state representative who had been active in local chambers of commerce, Haley had been part of her family’s clothing business, Exotica International.
California: In perhaps the longest break from the same job, Jerry Brown defeated former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to become governor—a position he held in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The win for Brown returned the governor’s office to Democratic control following the controversial tenure of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
New York: Across the nation, another familiar name returned to the governor’s office, only this time it was the son of a former governor as Andrew Cuomo easily defeated GOP businessman Carl Paladino.
New York: It was no coincidence that the House’s health care reform bill last winter was worth several billion dollars more to New York than the Senate’s version—the state had 27 House majority members. Now it has a mere handful, and New York City has none.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg: The mayor’s website says he looks for candidates who are “reasonable, centrist, moderate, independent and competent.” Nothing there about winning, which his key New York picks of Democrat Rep. Mike McMahon and attorney general candidate Dan Donovan, a Republican, failed to do. Ditto Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania Senate race.
Teachers unions: They withheld support from Cuomo rather than sign on to his agenda, only to see him romp to victory without them.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: The robust Democratic majority he helped build in the U.S. Senate is all but gone, as is his shot at the majority leadership after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won reelection in Nevada.
Hotel Trades Council: Endorsing and turning out votes for Andrew Cuomo certainly got the governor-elect’s attention, if not any specific promises. Moreover, it helped down-ballot Democrats who could prove crucial to the union’s legislative priorities. In two toss-up races, Hotel Trades backed state Sen. Eric Schneiderman for attorney general and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Business Council of New York State: In its first year of endorsing candidates, it backed Andrew Cuomo for governor and a cadre of state Senate Republicans. The council will have a greater say in legislation and a more potent voice to hold its endorsees to their promises of no new taxes.
Working Families Party: Andrew Cuomo’s acceptance of the WFP line ensured the left-wing party’s place on the ballot for the next four years. The WFP allegedly signed on to his conservative fiscal agenda, but what’s to stop it from reneging?
New York newspapers: More than 30 editorial boards backed Republican comptroller candidate Harry Wilson, helping him to turn a 17-point mid-October deficit, as measured by a Siena poll, into a close race against incumbent Tom DiNapoli.
Gov. David Paterson: Has a chance to leave a positive legacy as the answer to the trivia question, Who appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to the Senate?
Assemblyman Darryl Towns: The Democrats’ loss of the House makes it likely Rep. Ed Towns will finally retire and give his son the inside track for the seat.
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2010 Senate/House/Governors Election Results
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