There is weeping and gnashing of teeth in Blue State America today.
With Sen. Pat Roberts holding on in Kansas, and David Perdue easily winning in Georgia (without a run-off), Republicans took the necessary steps to gain the six seats required to take the U.S. Senate and make Mitch McConnell the next Senate Majority Leader. And aside from doing the requisite things needed to seize the majority, there was icing on the cake, too.
In North Carolina, for example, Thom Tillis won a race he was expected to lose—and Ed Gillespie, who was down by double-digits just a few weeks ago, might even end up in a recount against Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
There were important gubernatorial victories, too. Though Republicans lost the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania (as expected), in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a tough challenge, preserving his status as a likely presidential candidate. Ditto Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won easily, and might parlay his success into a presidential bid. Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott prevailed over former Gov. Charlie Crist in their high-profile battle. And, in keeping with the “wave” election designation, Republicans won gubernatorial races in blue states like Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland, and stayed close enough to force the Vermont state legislature to decide the winner of its race.
But the Senate battle was always the marquee fight, and aside from this turning into a Republican rout, the midterms also provide us with some historic firsts. Rep. Tom Cotton, who won in Arkansas, becomes the first Iraq War veteran elected to the Senate. Sen. Tim Scott (who was appointed to the Senate) becomes the first black politician to win statewide in South Carolina since Reconstruction—and, according to Vox, “the first African American ever popularly elected to the Senate from anywhere in the South.”
And West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Iowa’s Joni Ernst both will become the first females to represent their respective states in the U.S. Senate. (There were many similar firsts coming from Republicans who won seats in the House, including New York’s Elise Stefanik, who, at age 30, becomes the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.)
Aside from the obvious “Senate takeover” headline, there were plenty of other side stories worth noting, as well. In defeating Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner dealt a serious blow to the “war on women” narrative. Udall had stressed the line of attack so frequently that he was dubbed “Mark Uterus,” and it clearly backfired. Gardner now becomes the model—and his campaign the template—for how to win purple states.
Lastly, under relentless attack for the entire election cycle, Mitch McConnell emerges from 2014 looking like a consummate professional and a political survivor. He began by fending off a tough primary challenge from a deep-pocketed Tea Party candidate, and then beat back Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, a member of Kentucky’s political aristocracy.
In doing so, McConnell became the embodiment of the GOP’s 2014 triumph, and achieved his dream of being the Senate Majority Leader. There was something for everyone, it seems. For McConnell, it was the culmination of a long-held dream. And for long-suffering Republicans, a chance to at least attempt to implement conservative policies—or dare President Obama to veto them.
Governing is never as fun as winning an election. But for tonight, at least, the liberal tears sure taste sweet. It’s all over but the shouting.