Democrats grab Senate seats
By JONATHAN WEISMAN
The New York Times | November 07,2012
Democrats snatched Republican Senate seats in Indiana and Massachusetts on Tuesday and were poised to hold control of the Senate, handing Republicans a string of stinging defeats for the second campaign season in a row.
In Indiana, Rep. Joe Donnelly did what had seemed impossible by taking a Senate seat for the Democrats in a deep-red state, just weeks after his Republican opponent, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, said conception by rape was God’s will. In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor, swept from power Sen. Scott P. Brown, the Republican whose surprise victory in January 2010 heralded the coming of the tea party wave.
Those Democratic triumphs followed quick wins in Ohio, Connecticut, Florida and Pennsylvania, all states where Republicans had harbored ambitions of victory that would propel them to a Senate majority for the first time since 2006.
Republicans lost another state when former Gov. Angus King Jr. of Maine, an independent, won his race to succeed Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, a moderate who is retiring.
In New York, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, cruised to re-election. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was also easily re-elected.
The results suggested that for the second consecutive election cycle, Republicans’ high hopes for a takeover of the Senate were dashed in large part by their own candidates. In 2010 and 2012, the disappointment could be laid at the feet of a very conservative Republican primary electorate that was determined to sweep out the party’s centrists.
Democrats started the cycle with 23 seats to defend and the Republicans 10, an imbalance produced by the Democratic sweep of 2006. With only a three-seat majority for the Democrats, including two independents who caucused with them, holding on to control of the chamber seemed like an impossible task.
To defend some of the seats in heavily Republican states where Democrats were retiring, the party recruited talented candidates like Heidi Heitkamp, a former North Dakota secretary of state.