The Wave Claims Another

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on November 18, 2014

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.


Republican Senate nominee Dan Sullivan thanks his supporters on election night in Anchorage, flanked by his three daughters, wife Julie and campaign chair Tara Sweeney.

The Wave Claims Another
The election is long over, but in some places the counting goes on. “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan defeated Sen. Mark Begich, the Democratic incumbent, in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race Wednesday”—that’s yesterday, not the day after the election—Fox News reports.

It’s not uncommon for close races in Alaska to remain undecided for days, owing to the Last Frontier’s high proportion of absentee ballots and its practice of not starting to count them until a week after Election Day. When Begich beat the late Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008, as the McClatchy News Service noted then, the race wasn’t called until two weeks after the election: “The loss came on Stevens’s 85th birthday.” Then, Begich won by a bit more than 1%. This year’s race, he trailed by 4% on election night and managed to close the gap by a point, but the diminishing number of uncounted ballots appears to have sealed his fate.

Not that he’s giving up. He refuses to concede and “remains hopeful,” according to the Alaska Dispatch News (formerly the Anchorage Daily News). Twitchy .com notes that the Alaska Democrat Party taunted Sullivan on Twitter: “Actually election officials still are counting votes in #Alaska. The spoiled child will just have to wait.” It’s quite a feat acting like an ungracious winner when you’re losing.

The Alaska governor’s race remains uncalled, but it looks likely to become the GOP’s second statehouse loss, after Pennsylvania. The ADN reports that Gov. Sean Parnell trails independent challenger Bill Walker by 1.6%, slightly wider than the election-night margin but enough, at least in theory, to be overcome by outstanding ballots. (There’s no Democrat in the race.)

The only other undecided governorship is in Vermont, where neither candidate received a majority vote and so the Legislature will decide. Since incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin outpolled Republican Scott Miline and both legislative chambers have Democratic majorities, one can pencil that one in the D column. If we impute victory to Walker and Shumlin, the total governor’s count will be 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent—a net gain of two for the GOP and loss of three for the Democrats.

Begich’s loss is the eighth Republican Senate pickup, and he is the fourth Democratic incumbent to go down to defeat. Come January, Republicans will hold at least 53 Senate seats.

Those numbers could rise to nine, five and 54, respectively, but not until next month. Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu faces Rep. Bill Cassidy in a Dec. 6 runoff. Louisiana has a “jungle primary” system in which all candidates run on Election Day, and, absent a majority, the top two finishers face off later.

On Capitol Hill, both parties are jockeying for advantage in the Bayou State. “Landrieu took to the Senate floor as soon as it opened Wednesday after the long fall recess and demanded passage of one of her home state’s pet causes: the Keystone XL oil pipeline,” notes the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

“Republicans were thrilled,” Milbank adds. “Just 40 minutes after Landrieu went to the Senate floor, House GOP leaders announced that they would pass the very same bill [next] Tuesday.” The House sponsor is Rep. Bill Cassidy. Hence Milbank’s amusing headline: “Landrieu Throws Hail Mary, GOP May Score.”

Landrieu is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and one of her main arguments in GOP-leaning Louisiana has been that re-electing her will preserve her “clout.” That clout is already sure to be diminished; even if she wins re-election, she will only be the committee’s ranking minority member. And the Associated Press reported yesterday that Senate Republicans have promised Cassidy a seat on the committee. He won’t have Landrieu’s 18 years’ seniority, but he would be a member of the majority.

Over in the House, the current count is 244-186, with five races undecided. WSJ has a nifty interactive map. Two of the outstanding contests are Louisiana runoffs in which a lone Democrat took a plurality of votes but multiple Republicans had overwhelming aggregate majorities.

In Cassidy’s current district, the Democrat is 87-year-old Edwin Edwards, an ex-governor who is also an ex-con. (When Edwards faced white supremacist David Duke in a 1991 runoff for governor, a famous slogan was “Vote for the crook, it’s important.”) Edwards got a bit over 30% on Election Day.

The other district is currently represented by GOP Rep. Vance McAllister, who despite a sex scandal sought re-election and because of it finished fourth. The Democrat, Jamie Mayo, got 28% on Election Day. Both seats seem likely to go Republican, which would bring the count to 246.

GOP candidates hold very narrow leads in the three other uncalled races, all against Democratic incumbents: Reps. Ami Bera and Jim Costa of California and Ron Barber of Arizona. The last race—for the seat formerly held by Gabrielle Giffords, who was gravely wounded in a 2011 murder attempt—is certain to go to a recount, the Arizona Republic reports. Challenger Martha McSally leads by 161 votes. “On Wednesday, Pima County [Tucson] officials also dropped a bombshell: They said they found an additional 213 ballots . . . that had not been counted.”

One additional result of the 2014 election is suggested by a headline from the left-liberal TalkingPointsMemo: “Seven Times Joni Ernst Showed Her True Wingnut Self.” Ernst, of course, is soon to be Iowa’s junior senator, a position held for 30 years by Democrat Tom Harkin. Sarah Palin had a good run, but it looks as if the left has found a new hate object.

[NOTE: The excerpt above is from the Nov. 13 BOTW archives.] For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”