Con­tested Ch­ester County bat­tles set­tled

Andy Din­ni­man holds onto 19th state Se­na­to­rial Dis­trict seat

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lu­cas Rodgers lrodgers@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Lu­casMRodgers on Twit­ter

The 2016 elec­tion sea­son has been a sur­pris­ingly suc­cess­ful year for po­lit­i­cal out­siders, but in the race for the 19th state Se­na­to­rial Dis­trict here in Ch­ester County, Demo­cratic in­cum­bent state Sen. Andy Din­ni­man ap­peared poised to hold off a chal­lenge from po­lit­i­cal new­comer Jack Lon­don, the Repub­li­can can­di­date.

With 95 per­cent of precincts in the county re­port­ing late Tues­day night, Din­ni­man was ahead with 69,642 votes to Lon­don’s 53,147 votes.

All re­sults are un­of­fi­cial un­til cer­ti­fied by the county board of elec­tions.

WASH­ING­TON >> Democrats’ chances of re­tak­ing the Se­nate ma­jor­ity were slip­ping away Tues­day as Repub­li­cans hung onto key seats in Wis­con­sin, North Carolina, In­di­ana and Florida.

Democrats grabbed a Repub­li­can-held seat in Illi­nois, but the out­come in Wis­con­sin was a sur­prise as both par­ties had ex­pected it to flip for the Democrats. Wis­con­sin GOP Sen. Ron John­son’s vic­tory over for­mer Demo­cratic Sen. Russ Fein­gold fore­cast a grim night for the Democrats, who could be con­signed to mi­nor­ity sta­tus on Capi­tol Hill for years to come.

Races in GOP-held Penn­syl­va­nia, New Hamp­shire and Mis­souri re­mained too close to call as Repub­li­cans de­fended a slim 54-46 ma­jor­ity in an un­pre­dictable elec­tion year. Democrats would have to win all of those and hang onto Demo­cratic-held Ne­vada to reach a 50-50 out­come, and could then only claim ma­jor­ity sta­tus if Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton wins the White House. The vice pres­i­dent casts tie-break­ing votes in the Se­nate.

As the night wore on Demo­cratic op­er­a­tives strug­gled to ex­plain why their op­ti­mistic as­sess­ments of re­tak­ing Se­nate con­trol were so mis­taken. Some were blam­ing FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s bomb­shell an­nounce­ment that he was re­view­ing a new batch of emails con­nected with Clin­ton for breath­ing life into GOP cam­paigns.

Se­nate Repub­li­cans, too, had feared they would have a bad night Tues­day, and some were taken by sur­prise as they racked up win af­ter win.

In North Carolina, Democrats had high hopes of un­seat­ing en­trenched GOP in­cum­bent Sen. Richard Burr, who in­fu­ri­ated even his own party with his laid­back cam­paign style. But in the end he had lit­tle trou­ble hold­ing off a chal­lenge from Demo­crat Deb­o­rah Ross, a for­mer state leg­is­la­tor and direc­tor of the North Carolina ACLU.

In In­di­ana, GOP Rep. Todd Young beat for­mer Demo­cratic se­na­tor and gover­nor Evan Bayh, who mounted a much-bal­ly­hooed come­back bid, but wilted un­der scru­tiny.

And in Florida, GOP Sen. Marco Ru­bio beat Demo­cratic Rep. Pa­trick Mur­phy, giv­ing Ru­bio a plat­form from which he could mount an­other bid for pres­i­dent in 2020. The out­come was not un­ex­pected since Mur­phy had been aban­doned by his own party in the fi­nal weeks of the cam­paign, but polls had tight­ened head­ing into Elec­tion Day.

In Ari­zona, mean­while, GOP Sen. John McCain, at age 80, won his sixth term in quite pos­si­bly his fi­nal cam­paign. The 2008 GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee was re-elected with­out much dif­fi­culty de­spite early pre­dic­tions of a com­pet­i­tive race, and struck a re­flec­tive note ahead of the out­come.

“While as Yogi Berra said, ‘I hate to make pre­dic­tions, es­pe­cially about the fu­ture,’ I’m not sure how many more I have in me,” McCain said.

Democrats’ only pickup so far came in Illi­nois, where GOP Sen. Mark Kirk had long been con­sid­ered the most en­dan­gered Repub­li­can in­cum­bent. Demo­cratic Rep. Tammy Duck­worth, a dou­ble-am­putee Iraq war vet­eran, ousted Kirk.

In New York, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ leader-in-wait­ing for a new Congress, eas­ily won re­elec­tion. But the re­sults sug­gested he would be lead­ing a Se­nate mi­nor­ity when he re­places re­tir­ing Ne­vada Sen. Harry Reid in the leader’s role.

Nonethe­less Schumer struck an op­ti­mistic note ad­dress­ing sup­port­ers in Man­hat­tan. “I hope the vot­ers of Amer­ica will bless us with a Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate,” he said.

GOP in­cum­bents around the coun­try had faced en­er­gized Demo­cratic chal­lengers try­ing to oust them in costly and caus­tic bat­tles shad­owed ev­ery step of the way by the po­lar­iz­ing pres­i­den­tial race be­tween Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump and Clin­ton.

The GOP retook the ma­jor­ity just two years ago. And even though con­trol of the Se­nate is likely to be ra­zor-thin which­ever party ends up on top, the ad­van­tages of be­ing in the ma­jor­ity are sig­nif­i­cant. The con­trol­ling party holds the com­mit­tee chair­man­ships, sets the leg­isla­tive agenda and runs in­ves­ti­ga­tions. First up is likely to be a nom­i­nee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Reid was re­tir­ing af­ter five terms and try­ing to en­gi­neer a Demo­cratic suc­ces­sor in Ne­vada. Democrats were op­ti­mistic that a strong Latino vote, and Repub­li­can hope­ful Rep. Joe Heck’s stum­bles with Trump, would keep Ne­vada in their col­umn.

Mis­souri, like North Carolina, was a GOP-friendly state that turned un­ex­pect­edly com­pet­i­tive as in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Sen. Roy Blunt seemed caught un­awares by the na­tion’s rest­less mood.

Through­out the cam­paign the Se­nate races pro­vided mo­ments of drama, not least as GOP can­di­dates grap­pled with shar­ing a ticket with Trump. That tripped up Sen. Kelly Ay­otte in New Hamp­shire af­ter she as­serted at one point that Trump could “ab­so­lutely” be a role model for the na­tion’s youth.

In Ne­vada, Heck ended the cam­paign re­fus­ing to say whether or not he’d vote for Trump. Penn­syl­va­nia GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, too, kept vot­ers in sus­pense un­til the eleventh hour before dis­clos­ing late Tues­day that he voted for Trump.


Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., talks to sup­port­ers as he gives his ac­cep­tance speech af­ter win­ning re-elec­tion.


Sen.-elect Tammy Duck­worth, D-Ill., smiles as she cel­e­brates her win over in­cum­bent Sen. Mark Kirk, dur­ing her elec­tion night party.

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