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November 8, 2006
Dissipation Complete

Virginia has finished counting its ballots, and the final count makes James Webb the winner of the Senate race this evening, retiring incumbent George Allen, who at one time appeared to be a front-runner for the 2008 Presidential nomination. The decision gives the Democrats 51 seats and control of the Senate, putting Harry Reid in charge of the upper chamber:

Democrats wrested control of the Senate from Republicans Wednesday with an upset victory in Virginia, giving the party complete domination of Capitol Hill for the first time since 1994.

Jim Webb's squeaker win over incumbent Sen. George Allen gave Democrats their 51st seat in the Senate, an astonishing turnabout at the hands of voters unhappy with Republican scandal and unabated violence in Iraq. Allen was the sixth Republican incumbent senator defeated in Tuesday's elections.

The Senate had teetered at 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans for most of Wednesday, with Virginia hanging in the balance. Webb's victory ended Republican hopes of eking out a 50-50 split, with Vice President
Dick Cheney wielding tie-breaking authority.

The AP reports that Allen will likely not request a recount if the spread remains in the several thousands, and right now the spread is over 7,000. Most normal recounts do not make corrections of that magnitude, and after such a divisive campaign, Allen probably wants to spare Virginians from an overtime period.

This puts an exclamation point on the dissipation of Republican rule in Congress. This makes the last two years of the Bush administration especially tricky, but not just for Bush. The narrow 51-49 margin will make it difficult to pursue any partisan initiatives. Even with the House in Democratic hands, the Senate has to gain a consensus of 60 in order to get anything done, a reality Republicans repeatedly discovered during the last four years.

Don't expect great programs out of Congress. Divided government tends to do less, not more, and tends to react even more slowly than normal. The Bush administration should be prepared to work with Democrats on their agenda, but that doesn't mean capitulating on every issue. We will have to remain vigilant in vetting proposals and watching appropriations to ensure that we contain the excesses of Democratic redistribution plans while the Republicans try to rediscover their limited-government, reform-minded platform all over again.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 8, 2006 8:09 PM

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» Jim Webb declared winner in VA? from Bill's Bites
Allahpundit has a screen shot from FOXNews reporting that AP has declared Webb the winner. says the same thing. I'm not sure when we started letting AP choose our Senators but maybe they know something the rest of us [Read More]

Tracked on November 8, 2006 9:51 PM


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