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Ga. voters reflect national Republican sentiment

POSTED: November 4, 2010 12:16 a.m.

A Republican sweep, fueled by concerns about the economy and national Democratic policies about health care and spending, handed defeat to House Democrats and pulled the GOP into the power position for years to come.

Statewide races mirrored the national trend, with Republicans taking Georgia's top 10 seats of U.S. senator, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state school superintendent, insurance commissioner, agriculture commissioner, labor commissioner and District 2's public service commissioner.

Voting trends looked similar in the top 10 state races - with the Republican taking about 1.4 million votes, or 53-56 percent of the tally, the Democratic opponents taking about 1 million votes with 41-43 percent and the Libertarian candidate drawing in the usual 3 to 4 percent of the vote.

"Americans across the nation rejected an agenda of reckless spending, skyrocketing deficits and tax increases," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, who defeated Democrat Mike Thurmond and Libertarian Chuck Donovan, said Wednesday. "I believe we need to focus on the creation of private sector jobs, keeping taxes low and adopting a pro-economic growth agenda to bring economic recovery for our nation."

President Barack Obama drew significant attention Wednesday when he held a news conference, saying voters frustrated by the pace of economic recovery delivered the Republican takeover of the House.

"As president I take responsibility" for failure to restore job growth more quickly, he said, mentioning that he's eager to talk with leaders of both political parties "and figure out how we can move forward together."

"Last night, across the country, the American people stood up and said ‘No' to the leaders of the Democrat Party and their policies that have failed to create jobs and stop the out-of-control spending," said Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Graves. "(Wife) Julie and I watched the returns last night and believe that the American people are saying what many in the 9th District of Georgia have said for years. Big government, higher taxes and deficit spending policies are not acceptable."

As the Republican victory builds into a major stage for the party to push conservative ideals, Isakson, Graves and Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss pledged Wednesday to work together for the economy.

"When the Senate reconvenes, Sen. Chambliss looks forward to focusing on job creation, fiscal responsibility and common sense policy-making," said Chambliss spokeswoman Ashley Nelson.

Graves added a focus on conservative financial decisions.

"We are humbled by the support we have received and will continue to work towards a return to a smaller, constitutionally guided government because that is the key to restore confidence in the economy and invigorate the private sector in order to create jobs," he said.

On Tuesday, the GOP ousted Democratic freshmen and influential veterans, including some considered safe just weeks ago. Republicans piled up their biggest House gains since they added 80 seats in 1938. By early Wednesday, they had netted 239 seats, including 60 formerly Democratic seats, and led in four more.

The GOP victory eclipsed the 54-seat pickup through the so-called "revolution" when they retook the House in 1994 for the first time in 40 years and the 56-seat Republican gain in 1946.

Democrats only picked up three Republican seats and lost some of their most powerful members.

It was a remarkable turnabout from 2008 when Obama helped propel Democrats to big gains in their House majority only two years after the 2006 wave that swept them to control.

Marking the most expensive midterm election campaign in the nation's history, House candidates and party committees raised and spent tons of campaign cash. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $145 million to bankroll its candidates, compared with $121 million shelled out by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

GOP candidates poured a total of $419 million into their campaigns, while Democrats spent $421.5 million.

Republican-allied outside groups skewed the playing field dramatically, spending $189.5 million while independent groups opposing Republicans spent $89 million.

At the state level, Georgia will have no Democrats holding statewide office when the new leaders take over in January, marking the first time since Reconstruction.

"The people have convincingly placed their trust and their faith in the Republican leadership - top to bottom - to steer this state," said Gov. Sonny Perdue while speaking at a state Capitol news conference on Wednesday morning.

Gov.-elect Nathan Deal echoed Perdue's thoughts at the news conference.

"I think it sends a good message from the standpoint of the Republican Party. We fielded a whole array of good candidates ... that were excellent examples of conservative principles, people who have pledged to work together cooperatively," he said. "Now, that means we've got to make sure that we do that, and I will be a leader who will make sure that I call on the resources and the intellect and the perspective that each of these constitutional officers will hold. We need to be sure that we all are talking to each other, and I will be a leader who will make sure that it happens."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 



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