Dems seize US House in elec­tions

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE -

DEMOCRATS took con­trol of the lower house of Congress on Tues­day in a midterm re­buke to Don­ald Trump, but the US pres­i­dent es­caped a feared “blue wave” as his Repub­li­cans bol­stered their Se­nate ma­jor­ity af­ter a po­lar­is­ing cam­paign.

Her­alded by Trump as a “tremen­dous suc­cess”, the Repub­li­can Se­nate vic­to­ries will all but end any im­me­di­ate talk of im­peach­ment, even as the Demo­cratic-led House will en­joy in­ves­tiga­tive pow­ers to put new checks on his roller­coaster pres­i­dency.

Just af­ter polls closed on the West Coast, Trump took to Twit­ter to hail his party’s per­for­mance.

But net­work pro­jec­tions said that Democrats would take con­trol of the House for the first time in eight years, up­end­ing the bal­ance of power in Wash­ing­ton, where Trump has so far en­joyed an easy ride fol­low­ing his shock 2016 elec­tion with Repub­li­can dom­i­nance of both cham­bers.

Democrats were on course to flip at least 27 seats from Repub­li­can hands, with strong per­for­mances among sub­ur­ban white women who had nar­rowly turned to Trump two years ago and in key bat­tle­ground states such as Penn­syl­va­nia.

In the 100-mem­ber Se­nate, with fi­nal, com­plete re­sults not tal­lied, news re­ports said the Repub­li­cans

had won at least 51 seats.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to re­turn as speaker of the House de­spite op­po­si­tion from some cen­trist Democrats, promised the party will serve as a coun­ter­weight – but also work with Trump.

“To­day is more than about Democrats and Repub­li­cans. It’s about restor­ing the con­sti­tu­tion’s checks and bal­ances to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Pelosi told a news con­fer­ence.

But she added: “A Demo­cratic Congress will work for so­lu­tions that bring us to­gether, be­cause we have all had enough of di­vi­sion.”

Democrats will now be able to block leg­is­la­tion and light a fire un­der Trump’s feet with in­ves­ti­ga­tions of his opaque fi­nances and Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

Tues­day’s con­test saw sev­eral his­toric firsts in the Demo­cratic camp: in Kansas Sharice Davids – an at­tor­ney and for­mer mixed mar­tial arts fighter – be­came the first Na­tive Amer­i­can woman elected to Congress.

And in the Mid­west a one­time So­mali refugee, Il­han Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, who is the daugh­ter of Pales­tinian im­mi­grants, shared the his­toric dis­tinc­tion of be­com­ing the first two Mus­lim women elected to the US Congress.

But the rosiest ex­pec­ta­tions of some Democrats – that they could cre­ate a “blue wave” even when play­ing de­fence on the Se­nate map – proved un­founded.

Repub­li­cans were fore­cast to have de­feated sev­eral Demo­cratic sen­a­tors in states won by Trump – Florida, In­di­ana, Mis­souri and North Dakota.

Trump boasted a grow­ing econ­omy but cam­paigned ag­gres­sively in the clos­ing days on a hard­line anti-im­mi­gra­tion mes­sage.

He seized on scenes of a car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants head­ing through Mex­ico for the US, mused on end­ing the con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tee of ci­ti­zen­ship to all peo­ple born in the US and ran a t e l e v i s i on a dver t i s e ment, deemed too provoca­tive to air by main­stream net­works, that linked Democrats to a crim­i­nal who was an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant.

Trump also has sent soldiers to the Mex­i­can bor­der and threat­ened to have il­le­gal im­mi­grants shot if they throw stones.

“It’s a con­se­quen­tial elec­tion,” Yorgo Kout­so­gio­gasi, a 64-yearold im­mi­grant from Greece and CEO of a hos­pi­tal­ity com­pany, said as he voted in Chicago.

“Di­vi­sive­ness is re­ally tear­ing the coun­try apart,” Kout­so­gio­gasi, a Demo­crat, said as he voted with his wife. “I’m vot­ing for can­di­dates that I be­lieve have the ca­pac­ity to unite peo­ple rather than di­vide.”

But Repub­li­can voter James Ger­lock, 27, said he wanted to see more of the soar­ing eco­nomic growth that Trump says is the fruit of his busi­ness­friendly poli­cies.

“I am ex­tremely happy with the econ­omy,” Ger­lock said as he cast his bal­lot in Chicago.

“I just want to keep ev­ery­thing mov­ing be­cause I’m lov­ing it.”

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