WASHINGTON - 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.
Senate candidate Jim Webb, D-Va., gestures during remarks in
the early morning hours of an election night event on Wednesday, Nov. 8,
2006 in Vienna, Va. [AP]
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
The Associated Press contacted election officials in all 134 localities where
voting occurred, obtaining updated numbers Wednesday. About half the localities
said they had completed their postelection canvassing and nearly all had counted
outstanding absentees. Most were expected to be finished by Friday.
The new AP count showed Webb with 1,172,538 votes and Allen with 1,165,302, a
difference of 7,236. Virginia has had two statewide vote recounts in modern
history, but both resulted in vote changes of no more than a few hundred votes.
An adviser to Allen, speaking on condition of anonymity because his boss had
not formally decided to end the campaign, said the senator wanted to wait until
most of canvassing was completed before announcing his decision, possibly as
early as Thursday evening.
The adviser said that Allen was disinclined to request a recount if the final
vote spread was similar to that of election night.
The victory puts Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in line to become Senate majority
leader. He has led the Democrats since Tom Daschle, D-S.D., was defeated two