Daschle Loses Senate Race

Republicans remain in control of the Senate, setting up key changes in leadership positions. Jacqui Fatka

Published on: Nov 3, 2004

Republicans tightened their control of the Senate, capturing 53 seats with two seats still undecided. And in doing so were able to oust Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

Daschle fell to former Rep. John Thune by a thin margin of 51% to Daschle's 49%, a margin of about 8,000 votes.

With Daschle losing, the Senate Democratic leadership position might go to Sen. Harry Reid from Nevada. Agriculture has a much smaller role in Nevada's state economy compared to South Dakota with a growing dairy sector in Nevada, but obviously less row crop agricultural influence.

A guy who's always been in the lead, and might take a greater role if Reid takes the leadership would be Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, predicts Jon Doggett, National Corn Growers Association vice president of public policy.

Senate faces changing dynamic

The comprehensive energy bill was defeated in the Senate because the Republicans couldn't capture 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. Many bills were stalled because of the current 51-49 balance of Republicans compared to Democrats in the Senate. But American Soybean Association lobbyist Mark Palmer says that with 53, 54 or even 55 Republicans, you'd have a completely different Senate.

Key races Republicans picked up besides South Dakota include wins by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. and Rep. Richard Burr's defeat over Democrat Erskine Bowles for the seat being vacated by Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards in North Carolina.

With 96% of Alaska's precincts reporting, GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski led former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles by a 50-45% margin. In Florida another closely contested race appears to favor Republican and former HUD Secretary Martinez over former state Education Commission Betty castor. Martinez hold an unofficial 50-48% margin and a lead of about 80,000 votes according to Congress Daily.

If preliminary results hold, Republicans would reclaim the 55-seat majority they held after the 1996 and 1998 elections.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Charles Stenholm, Texas, lost to freshman Rep. Randy Neugebauer after redestricting. Republicans picked up more seats in the House, widening control of what some already say is a "dictatorship."