WASHINGTON — Democrats won a narrow majority in the Senate on Tuesday, snatching Republican-held seats in Massachusetts and Indiana and turning back fierce, expensive challenges in Virginia, Ohio and Connecticut to maintain the control they've held since 2007.
With a third of the Senate up for election, Republicans were undone by candidate stumbles, with GOP hopefuls in Missouri and Indiana uttering clumsy statements about rape and abortion that did severe damage to their chances and the party's hopes of taking over. The losses of Senate seats in Massachusetts and Indiana, combined with independent Angus King's victory in the Republican-held Maine seat, put the GOP too far down in their already uphill climb.
Democrats held open seats in Virginia and were leading in New Mexico, North Dakota and Wisconsin shortly before midnight. Republicans took the Nebraska seat as GOP candidate Deb Fischer denied former Sen. Bob Kerrey's bid to return to the Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., spoke of conciliation.
"Now that the election is over, it's time to put politics aside and work together to find solutions," Reid said in a statement. "The strategy of obstruction, gridlock and delay was soundly rejected by the American people. Now they are looking to us for solutions."
Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly edged out tea party-backed Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock in a race rocked by the Republican candidate's awkward remark that pregnancy resulting from rape is "something God intended."
Mourdock also upset some Indiana voters for his decision to sue to stop the federal auto bailout of Chrysler, which means jobs building transmissions to thousands in Kokomo. And he alienated some in his own party with his divisive win over six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in the May GOP primary. Lugar refused to campaign for him.