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WASHINGTON -- Democrats narrowly held their Senate majority
Tuesday but suffered at least six stinging losses, including the
Illinois seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada survived a fierce
challenge from tea party Republican Sharron Angle. However,
Republicans ousted two Democratic senators and picked up
Democratic-held seats in four other states, leaving Reid with a
greatly diminished majority.

Reid's win, plus Democratic victories in California and West
Virginia, kept Republicans short of the 10-seat gain they needed to
control the 100-member chamber. Races in Alaska, Colorado and
Washington were too close to call.

With Republicans taking over the House, Obama will need a
Democratic-run Senate to champion his legislative agenda.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hailed his
party's gains. Tonight the voters ensured their message was heard
loud and clear, he said.

His task won't be easy, however. Several of his new GOP
colleagues are tea party acolytes who already have taken delight in
tweaking the party establishment.

As for the Democrats, Reid, a former boxer, said, the fight is
far from over. He called Tuesday's results a bell signaling the
start of the next round.

Veteran Democratic Sens. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Blanche
Lincoln of Arkansas lost their re-election bids. Republicans took
open Democratic-held Senate seats in Illinois, Pennsylvania, North
Dakota and Indiana.

In Illinois, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk won a bitter contest against
Democratic state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for Obama's old seat.
Giannoulias was dogged by legal woes at his opponent's family-owned
bank, while Kirk had his own problems after exaggerating his
military record. Obama made several campaign appearances for
Giannoulias, including last Saturday and Sunday.

Tea party champions won high-profile races in Florida and
Kentucky, spearheading a likely cadre of libertarian-leaning
Republicans who will press party leaders to be more adamant about
lower taxes, less spending and smaller government.

Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida rocked the GOP
establishment last spring by routing leadership favorites in party
primaries. Then they beat back Democrats' efforts to paint them as
too extreme, winning comfortably on Tuesday.

In Utah, tea party-backed Mike Lee also won easily after
snatching the Republican nomination from Sen. Bob Bennett in March.

Tonight there's a tea party tidal wave, said an exultant
Paul.

Some Republicans, however, will render a harsher judgment.
Earlier this year, the GOP appeared in position to beat Reid and to
claim Vice President Joe Biden's old Delaware seat. But tea party
upstarts won the Republican nominations in both states and proved
to be seriously flawed challengers in the general election.

Republicans, however, recruited well in Wisconsin, Arkansas and
elsewhere.

Feingold, a three-term Democrat, lost to GOP newcomer Ron
Johnson in Wisconsin. Best known for efforts to tighten campaign
finance laws, Feingold was the only senator to vote against the
so-called Patriot Act passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks,
calling it a dangerous infringement on civil liberties.

Johnson, 55, made a fortune in manufacturing plastics. He wants
to repeal the nation's new health care law, which he calls the
greatest single assault on freedom in his lifetime.

Lincoln fell to GOP Rep. John Boozman in Arkansas, where Obama
lost by 20 percentage points two years ago. Conservatives said
Lincoln was too close to Obama, while liberals said she wasn't
loyal enough.

Republican Pat Toomey won a hard-fought race in Pennsylvania,
narrowly beating Democrat Joe Sestak. The seat was held by
Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, whom Sestak beat in the
primary.

Indiana voters sent Republican Dan Coats, 67, back to the Senate
after a 12-year absence. Coats, who spent a decade in the Senate
before stepping down in 1998, defeated Democratic Rep. Brad
Ellsworth. The seat is being vacated by Democrat Evan Bayh.

In North Dakota, Republican Gov. John Hoeven handily won the
Senate seat that retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan held for 18 years.

But Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, kept his
state's open Senate seat in Democratic hands, fending off pro
wrestling entrepreneur Linda McMahon.

Paul, who beat Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway,
is an ophthalmologist who had not sought office before. His father
is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a hero to many libertarians. GOP Sen.
Jim Bunning is retiring from the seat.

Rubio, a former Florida House speaker, is not a political
newcomer. But he defied his party's establishment by refusing to
stand aside for Gov. Charlie Crist in the Senate race. Crist ran an
independent effort, but Rubio comfortably defeated him and
Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek. The Florida seat's previous two
occupants were Republicans who stepped down.

Christine O'Donnell, another tea party darling, lost to Democrat
Chris Coons in Delaware. She also had won a stunning GOP primary
victory, beating longtime Rep. Mike Castle, who was expected to top
Coons. But she raised eyebrows with curious comments about
witchcraft, the First Amendment and other topics, and failed to
extend her popularity to the broader November electorate.

Tea partiers were hoping Republican Ken Buck in Colorado could
oust Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

In Alaska, a tempestuous three-way race threatened another tea
partier, GOP nominee Joe Miller. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was running a
rare write-in campaign after losing the Republican nomination to
Miller. The Democratic nominee was Scott McAdams.

Also in question was Washington Sen. Patty Murray's bid to fend
off GOP challenger Dino Rossi.

In New Hampshire, Republican Kelly Ayotte kept her party in
control of the seat being vacated by Judd Gregg. The former state
attorney general defeated Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes.

Rob Portman won the Ohio Senate race, keeping a Republican in
the seat that Sen. George Voinovich is vacating. Portman spent 12
years in the U.S. House starting in 1993. He later was budget
director and then U.S. trade representative under President George
W. Bush. Portman defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.

In Kansas, GOP Rep. Jerry Moran won the Senate seat vacated by
Republican Sam Brownback, who was elected governor Tuesday.

And Rep. Roy Blunt kept Missouri's open Senate seat in
Republican hands.

Easily winning re-election as expected were Sens. Mike Crapo,
R-Idaho, David Vitter, R-La., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, John
McCain, R-Ariz., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Tom
Coburn, R-Okla., Richard Burr, R-N.C., John Thune, R-S.D., Johnny
Isakson, R-Ga., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Patrick
Leahy, D-Vt., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.,
and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

Democrats effectively had a 59-41 Senate edge before the
election. Technically they held 57 seats, but two independent
senators caucus with the party.

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