A day after the GOP grabbed Senate control and increased its majority in the House, President Obama admitted, "Republicans had a good night." Democrats did get a little bit of good news Wednesday as incumbent governors in Colorado and Connecticut fought off challengers to keep their seats.
We've enjoyed watching the democratic process over the last 24 hours, and we hope you have too. As President Obama noted today, only one-third of the electorate voted. But shifts were made. The Times will be watching and reporting over the next two years to see what Congress and the president accomplish together.
We're wrapping up our election coverage in this space, so for continuing updates and analysis, go to latimes.com.
I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell.
Connecticut's Democratic governor wins reelection
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy narrowly won re-election Wednesday in a race that was marked by polling problems in the state capital and a last-second court battle in the campaign's closing hours.
Malloy's re-election marked a rare win for Democrats on a night where Republicans gained complete control of Congress and also claimed victory in a number of gubernatorial races throughout the country.
Tom Foley, Malloy's Republican challenger, conceded the election in aletter sent to supporters on Wednesday morning. Malloy was leading Foley, who he also bested in a white-knuckle 2010 campaign, by two percentage points with 97 percent of precincts reporting.
Challenger Marshall Tuck conceded Wednesday morning to incumbent Tom Toralakson in the contest for California superintendent of public instruction, a race that became the most expensive on the state ballot.
Tuck benefited from a deep well of financial support from wealthy donors and advocacy groups. They effectively leveled a financial playing field dominated in the past by Torlakson's primary supporters--the state's teacher unions.
Supporters of both candidates had more than $10 million to spend, bringing unprecedented attention to a down-ballot contest and to an office with little direct authority over education policy or the state's school districts.
Republican victories in Tuesday’s election marked a number of firsts for the GOP:
In Utah, Mia Love defeated her opponent, Democrat Doug Owens, to become the party’s first black congresswoman.
(Rick Bowmer / AP)
In South Carolina, Tim Scott became the first black Senator elected in the South since Reconstruction. Scott had previously served in the U.S. House, and was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2012 by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Since then, there hasn’t been a black Republican in Congress. On Twitter, Scott addressed the historic moment. “In South Carolina, in America, it takes a generation to go from having a grandfather who is picking cotton, to a grandson in Congress,” Scott tweeted. “We are thankful for those trailblazers who came before us…I stand on the shoulders of giants. The most important things we have to offer are on the inside.”
In South Carolina, in America, it takes a generation to go from having a grandfather who is picking cotton, to a grandson in Congress.
In Texas, GOP challenger Will Hurd unseated Democrat Pete Gallego. Hurd will be the first black Republican to serve in the U.S. House since 2012, when Scott moved to the Senate and Florida Republican Alan West lost his re-election bid.
In West Virginia, Saira Blair, an 18-year-old Republican who ran much of her campaign out of her dorm room at West Virginia University, became the youngest state lawmaker in the nation, defeating her opponent 63-30, according to the Associated Press to win a seat in the state’s House of Delegates. Blair, who won beat an incumbent in the GOP primary at the age of 17, said in a post that she is “honored and humbled” to be elected.
Florida voters rejected a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, a setback to advocates who were hoping to make legalization inroads in the South.
But a state law that requires such ballot measures have approval of 60% of voters to pass proved insurmountable after a bitterly fought campaign in which opponents of legalization were bolstered by $5 million in contributions from Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
The measure, according to a projection from the Associated Press, will fall just a few percentage points shy of passing.
Republicans quickly gained three seats in their quest to seize control of the U.S. Senate. The GOP easily won West Virginia and an open seat in South Dakota, which pushed them closer to their goal of taking six Senate seats from Democrats.In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor was dispatched by Tom Cotton, an Iraq combat veteran and Harvard Law School graduate.
While voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. were approving pro-marijuana measures, residents in two San Diego County cities made a different decision. By almost identical margins of 55% to 45%, voters in La Mesa in eastern San Diego County and Encinitas in the north turned down measures that would have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries.
In San Diego, medical marijuana dispensaries are legal. The city is in the process of evaluating applications.
Because the voting preferences of older and younger Americans diverge much more than they used to, and Democrats rely more heavily on the young, the country now has two very different electorates.
One shows up during midterms and the other — younger, less white, less conservative and bigger — turns out in presidential years.None of that means a Republican can't win the next presidential contest.
"No party has a permanent lock," says GOP pollster Whit Ayres. But reorienting the party "requires a presidential candidate running with a different message," much as "Bill Clinton did in 1992," he said.
Democrat Jacqui Irwin has won an Assembly seat in Ventura County, in a race that attracted a surge of independent spending. Republican challenger Rob McCoy conceded Wednesday. Both the Republican and Democratic parties spent significantly in the race, but outside groups also poured resources into it.
There was nearly $1 million in independent spending in the 44th Assembly District, the vast majority to boost Irwin, whose backers included labor groups and business interests.
Voters decided on Tuesday that joints, pot brownies, cannabis–dosed sodas and other marijuana products will soon be sold in retail shops to any adult who wants them throughout a large chunk of the West, after voters in Oregon and Alaska approved legalization.
An initiative approved overwhelmingly by Washington, D.C., voters legalizes the use and cultivation of marijuana there, but stops short of allowing retail sales.
Conclusion: The outcome also was a clear sign that opinions on marijuana no longer fall neatly along partisan lines
Weeks after a fatal high school shooting north of Seattle, voters in Washington state approved a measure that would establish one of the nation’s toughest background checks for gun purchases.
The initiative requires universal background checks for gun sales and firearms transfers, even as loans or gifts. The extended background checks would apply to purchases made online and at gun shows. Such checks are now required only when buying from licensed dealers.
All of the votes cast at Los Angeles County polling places are in but that doesn't mean the counting is over. Thousands of other ballots, including vote-by-mail ballots that were handed in on election day, provisional ballots and write-in ballots, remain and could tilt some closely fought races.
A couple we're still watching:
County assessor: Jeffrey Prang holds a narrow lead of 50.5% over John Morris
Proposition P: Would impose a $23 parcel tax for L.A. County parks, has 62% of the vote, needs at least 66% to pass
Democratic Colorado governor will hold onto seat, AP projects
Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, narrowly defeated Republican Bob Beauprez, the Associated Press projected.
Hickenlooper, a folksy former brew pub owner, was taken to task by Beauprez for measures signed after the Legislature’s 2012 Democratic takeover, including a stiffening of gun laws. He also came under fire for tabling the death sentence of a killer.
Both sides also grappled with a change in Colorado’s voting rules that required 2014 to be the state’s first all-mail election.
California Republicans picked up enough legislative seats in the state Senate and, possibly, the Assembly to deny Democrats a powerful two-thirds super majority.What does that mean?
Among other things, the GOP victories will likely derail any attempt by Democratic lawmakers to extend the tax increase backed by Gov. Brown and approved by voters approved in 2012. That increase temporarily raised the sales tax and income taxes on high earners to help revive state revenue flattened by the recession.
Republican challenger Carl DeMaio holds a razor-thin lead over incumbent Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) after a campaign that was filled with accusations and high levels of spending.
With 100% of the precincts counted, DeMaio held a 752-vote lead. But some 180,000 absentee and provisional ballots in San Diego County have yet to be counted, according to the county elections department. It is unknown how many of those ballots are in the 52nd District, which includes Poway, Coronado and a northern section of San Diego.The absentee and provisional ballots will not be counted until at least Thursday.
Republicans are waking up Wednesday morning with victories to celebrate, but sobering realities to ponder.
Winning control of the Senate after eight years of trying is a big prize, made more sweet by the fact that only two years ago, the party seemed on the ropes. Republicans also expanded their ranks in the House and, pending several late races, could end up with their biggest majority since Harry S. Truman left the White House.
But even before the votes were counted, some of the GOP's leading strategists had begun to warn that those victories could blind Republicans to hard problems that the 2014 campaign had done almost nothing to solve.
We are calling it a night -- a big, big night for Republicans everywhere (and a solid night for California Democrats). We'll be back at 6 a.m. with updates and analysis from L.A. Times political writers and editors. Until then, go to latimes.com for links to the latest stories and results.
We're still waiting for results in these races:
Alaska governor Alaska Senate Colorado governor Virginia Senate California controller California insurance commissioner California schools superintendent California secretary of state L.A. County supervisors L.A. County Proposition P and a slew of other local contests
Proposition 48's failure invalidates two gambling compacts between the state of California and Native American tribes: the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians near Yosemite and the Wiyot Tribe near Humboldt Bay. The compacts authorized a casino in Madera County, 38 miles from the North Fork's headquarters, with up to 2,000 slot machines.
Proposition 48 was placed on the ballot by competing gambling interests and other opponents of the planned casino, who ran a sizeable “no” campaign in hopes that voters would repeal the deal.
State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) has beaten gang prosecutor Elan S. Carr, a Beverly Hills Republican, in the race to succeed Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who is retiring after 40 years in Congress.
Lieu's base is in the South Bay, the more politically moderate part of the largely coastal, strongly Democratic 33rd Congressional District.
The congressional district is the second-most affluent in the U.S, according to Census data. Much of it served as longtime political home base for Waxman, a liberal lion, and his allies.
Gov. Jerry Brown does a little victory lap
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
After speaking to reporters outside the historic governor's mansion, newly reelected California Gov. Jerry Brown took a detour to a Democratic office on a dark street in downtown Sacramento. Leftover barbecue was on a table, and campaign staffers were receiving updates from around the state. Workers would text vote totals to the office, which would be printed out and taped on the wall.
Brown, sipping a glass of Perrier, sat at the head of a conference table with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and former Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles). Also there was Brown's wife, Anne Gust Brown, and top aide, Nancy McFadden.
The stop at the office was a chance for Brown to check up on the Democratic Party's efforts to secure a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature. Staffers were monitoring a selection of hotly contested Assembly and Senate races.
Brown then headed to the state party headquarters, where politicians, consultants and campaign officials celebrated another year of election success in California.
For the third consecutive midterm election, voters went to the polls angry at Washington and worried that the country was heading in the wrong direction.
People want Washington to get things done, particularly on the economy. Unfortunately, gridlock is likely to continue unless lawmakers and the president decide that the next election isn't as important as today's problems.