National Elections Trigger Major Shift in Congressional Leadership
As in Minnesota, national Republicans scored a major victory by reclaiming majority status in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the U.S. Senate, Democrats retained their majority status, but the margin has narrowed to only a couple of seats. These combined changes ensure that President Barack Obama will have a more difficult time advancing his agenda than was the case in the last two years.
In Minnesota, all but one congressional incumbent was re-elected; notably, long-time congressional Democrat Jim Oberstar (Duluth) was defeated by newcomer Chip Cravaack, a retired military veteran. Oberstar had served in the House for 36 years and was most recently chair of a powerful transportation funding committee. Nonetheless, the anti-incumbent winds blew strongly in his district, aided by a perception that he was detached from local voters and their concerns about the economy.
Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio) appears likely to be the new Speaker of the House; while Senator Harry Reid withstood an election challenge in Nevada, it is unclear whether he will remain as leader of his majority caucus. Some of his colleagues may feel that it is necessary (even essential) to have a new majority leader to counter the strong personality of John Boehner. Leadership elections for the U.S. House and Senate will take place later this week.