Wednesday, Dec 03, 2008
ATLANTA — Democratic hopes of gaining a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate collapsed Tuesday, as Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss was projected to win re-election in a runoff.
Sen. Chambliss was cruising to a comfortable victory, garnering 57.5% of the vote with 96% of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Sen. Chambliss at 8:55 p.m. EST.
Sen. Chambliss’s victory — a morsel of good news for Republicans in an otherwise bleak election season for the party — comes nearly a month after he failed to win re-election outright by garnering more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 4 against Democratic challenger Jim Martin and a Libertarian candidate. In the four weeks since Nov. 4, both national parties and dozens of interest groups poured millions of dollars into a heated runoff between Sen. Chambliss and Mr. Martin, a former state legislator.
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Prominent figures including former President Bill Clinton and both members of the 2008 Republican presidential ticket — Arizona Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — stumped for their side’s candidate. Republicans urged Georgia residents to erect a “firewall” against a Democratic super-majority by returning Sen. Chambliss to office.
Sen. Chambliss’s victory ensures that Democrats won’t have the 60 Senate seats necessary to override a filibuster in a party-line vote. The Democrats will have at least 58 seats in the new Senate, and possibly 59, depending on the outcome of a recount in the Minnesota Senate race between the Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman, and Democratic challenger Al Franken.
Despite Sen. Chambliss’s victory, the Democrats remain in a remarkably strong position. Given President-elect Barack Obama’s popularity, some moderate Republicans may well break ranks with their party on occasion and vote with the Democrats.