New Senators...What They Bring
Democrats didn't do as well as they hoped in yesterday's congressional elections, but they still gainsed seats in both chambers. Several races are still too close to call, but at the moment, Democrats can cleaim at least five more seats in the Senate, on top of their 2006 gain of six seats, giving them at least 56 of the 100 members in the Senate. They are on track to add about 20 to their House margin, giving them about a 80-vote advantage in that chamber.
Among the new Democratic senators...
Sen.-elect Kay Hagan of North Carolina defeated Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Hagan has worked extensively on budget issues at the state level. She's considered a conservative Democrat on budget and deficit issues, and she may be a hard sell on a big Democratic health care plan. She opposes a big government role, especially mandates on small businesses, in particular.
Sen.-elect Mark Warner of Virginia, a former governor, easily defeated former Gov. Jim Gimore. Warner made a fortune in technology ventures and cell phone companies. He'll angle fro a seat on the Commerce Committee and the Appropriations or the Armed Services panel, all top prizes for a freshman.
Sen.-elect Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a former governor, defeated incumbent Republican John Sununu after having led him in state polls for months. Shaheen is an education advocate, having gained popularity in the state for refurbishing schools and providing incentives to attract teachers from out of state to relocate. She'll be a point person on efforts to rework legislation on teacher accountability. She also wants a spot on the Armed Services Committee to protect Navy-related work in Portsmouth.
Sen-elect Tom Udall of New Mexico, a five-term congressman, defeated GOP Rep. Steve Pearce. Udall wants a seat on the Environment Committee as well as the Commerce Committee. In so doing, he represents two interests, sometimes competing -- mining and conservation. He'll end up finding a balance. He's been an advocate of alternative energy and environmental conservation. His father was Stewart Udall, secretary of the Interior in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
Sen.-elect Mark Udall of Colorado, also a five term congressman, bested former GOP Rep. Bob Schaffer. Udall is a cousin of Tom Udall. He's also the son of the late Rep. Morris Udall, D-AZ. In the Senate, Udall wants a spot on the Environment Committee and aims to have a hand in crafting climate change legislation to reduce carbon emissions. He also supports tough immigration enforcement and could play a role as a negotiator with conservatives on the issue when it comes up. Udall has also been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq. He'll seek conditions on further appropriations.