In a hard-fought race in New Hampshire, incumbent U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, held off former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown to retain a seat that her party could not afford to lose if it hopes to retain control of the Senate.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina was holding a 51 percent to 46 percent lead over Republican challenger Thom Tillis with little more than a half of the precincts reporting. Republicans have viewed the race as a golden opportunity for a pickup, with Tillis, the North Carolina House Speaker, making a strong bid. Republicans have tried to closely link Hagan to the unpopular policies of President Obama, but Hagan has gradually distanced herself from the president – and criticized some of his decisions.
Shaheen, a former state senator and a three-term governor was elected to her first term in 2008, having lost a previous Senate run in 2002. Brown, who was toppled from the Senate seat he held in Massachusetts in 2012, moved to his vacation home in New Hampshire to make a run for the Senate from the Granite State.
Brown has a history of causing heartburn for Democrats. In a special election in 2010, he not only won the seat that had been held for decades by the liberal lion Ted Kennedy, he also eliminated the Senate Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority just as Congressional Democrats were closing in on a final version of the Affordable Care Act.
Though painted as a carpetbagger by Democratic opponents, Brown looked for a time as though he was about to cause more headaches for the Democrats, as late polling showed the race in a dead heat. But though he was able to close the gap with Shaheen in the final weeks of the campaign, analysts at the Associated Press and several major television networks determined Tuesday evening shortly after 9 p.m. that his late surge was not enough to overcome Shaheen, whose political history in New Hampshire goes back to her state-level management of former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign.
The victory in New Hampshire gave Democrats a little bit of breathing room on a night when their control of the Senate appears to be in jeopardy. At the time the race was called for Shaheen, Republicans had already picked up two Senate seats formerly held by Democrats, in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Arkansas--meaning that only three more seats needed to change hands in order for Republicans to take over the Senate.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times