Democrats Score Three Major Senate Upsets
Policy + Politics

Democrats Score Three Major Senate Upsets

From left to right: Elizabeth Warren, Chris Murphy, Joe Donnelly

Three blockbuster Senate races in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Indiana were just called by the networks, with the Democrats claiming victory in all three:

•  Former Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, a darling of liberal Democrats and a prominent consumer advocate, ousted Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who succeeded the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Brown   attempted to depict Warren as a Harvard elitist, and berated her for her claims to Native American heritage.Warren countered by alleging that Brown  was doing the bidding of Wall Street interests.

The GOP viewed Brown's reelection as a golden opportunity to hold a traditionally Democratic Senate seat in traditionally liberal Massachusetts.  Warren's election, on the other hand, helped Democrats pick up another seat in their drive to retain control of the Senate. And her election is viewed as extremely important by progressive forces across the country, who have praised her for her dedication in holding Wall Street to account for its misdeeds in the run up to the economic meltdown.

•  Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly scored a stunning victory in Indiana last night over star-crossed Republican State Treasurer Richard Mourdock to claim a seat that was held for decades by moderate Republican Richard Lugar. Mourdock’s recent comments on rape apparently sealed his fate.

Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite, crushed Lugar in the GOP primary with accusations he no longer lived in the state and had lost touch with the state. While Mourdock seemed to be a sure bet to win in the general, in a state  dominated by conservative Republicans, his unbending, highly partisan “my way or the highway” approach alienated many voters. And when Mourdock declared earlier this week that “life is a gift from God,” even when conceived in that “horrible situation of rape, it's something God intended," it was another reminder of just how snake-bit the GOP’s once promising prospects are for taking back control of the Senate in November.

Mourdock’s blunder instantly reminded voters of Republican Rep. Todd Akin, another Tea Party favorite who blew his chances of unseating the politically vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri after remarking in August that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. McCaskill was considered a favorite to win, and she wasdeclared the winner tonight by the networks.

•  Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy of Connecticut beat Republican Linda McMahon, the wealthy wrestling magnate, overcoming the $40 million she poured into her campaign and mistakes of his own.

McMahon, former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, ran a strong campaign that made an early effort to reach out to women and moderate voters. The result was a competitive contest for much of the fall.

Murphy managed to overcome unwelcome publicity in the fall campaign about a 2007 foreclosure on his home and his failure to pay rent in 2003. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran ads on his behalf, shoring up the congressman’s support against the self-funding McMahon.

This just in: Former Virginia governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat, defeated former governor and senator George Allen to succeed Democratic Sen. James Webb, who is retiring.  The race was viewed by some as a bellwether for the presidential contest, and Republicans acknowledged that unless Mitt Romney carried the state, Allen would go down. Kaine somewhat surprisingly outraised Allen.