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Republicans Roll to House Control; Fall Short in Senate

November 2, 2010
By: Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy and Washington Editor
 
 

It appears being a Republican in the U.S. House was one of the better things to be as Decision 2010 has unfolded. While Republicans handily retook control of the House, they fell short of landing enough seats to retake the Senate. However, it puts the Democratic majority on notice that they have even more seats to defend in 2012, but that's for two years from now.

Probably the biggest race for U.S. agriculture related to Senate Ag Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) as she was handily defeated by challenger John Boozman (R). This brings to a close what has been a tumultuous campaign for Lincoln, who was forced into a runoff just to get to the general election.

This also means someone new will occupy the chair of the Ag Committee, with the the most likely being Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). While she is behind four other lawmakers in terms of seniority, those lawmakers will likely each opt to keep their current posts atop other committees -- Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Judiciary; Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Budget; and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Finance.

Stabenow is not all that well known in ag circles and this could certainly put a different dynamic on the next U.S. farm bill. But that also assumes that Conrad won't opt to take the ag panel instead of keeping his top spot on the Budget Committee.

As for other members of the Senate Ag Committee, with Leahy, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) all in position to win or have won. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) will also be back -- he had no opponent. Hoewver, panel member Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is still in a race that is too close to call.

In the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio) is posed to take the Speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), pledging to be humble as the chamber moves into Republican hands.

And it means that chairmanship of the House Ag Committee will pass to Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), moving Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) into the ranking minority member on the committee. But Peterson has spoke well of how he and Lucas work together. However, Lucas will has shown a more political line than Peterson has and that could change the tenor of the panel to a degree.

It appears Republicans on the House Ag Committee did well, with those who ran for another term being returned to the chamber. But with so many Democratic members were not as fortunate, with several members not being re-elected to another term.

This means there will not only be a shift in the control of the panel, but this also means if plans continue to try and finish a omnibus farm bill in 2011 there will be still-more lawmakers that have not ever been through the process of a farm bill. While that is not a new trend, it still means that there is an incredible education effort ahead.

Clearly, Democrats in the House will emerge from election thinner in ranks than they were before election night and have been put on notice by the electorate that the direction taken has not ended up being one voters like in 2010.

Republicans also posted gains in state contests, picking up several governorships and also capturing control of several state legislatures. This will be a key in the coming congressional redistricting that will take place as a result of the 2010 census.


 

 

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