2014 Election

At 72, after 30 years in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell has finally realized his life's ambition.

He never wanted to be president — he just wanted to be Senate majority leader. And when he ascends to that perch come January, McConnell will finally have a chance to shape the chamber he says he deeply loves. McConnell declared his first priority will be to make what's been called a paralyzed Senate function again. But the politician who became the face of obstruction over the past four years will have to persuade Democrats to cooperate.

Tuesday night belonged to the Republicans. Not only did they gain control of the Senate, but they upped their majority in the House and picked up several governorships, including in several staunchly blue states — Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois.

But beyond the Republican Party and the winning candidates, who else fared well — and not so well — on Tuesday? Here & Now’s Robin Young talks to NPR’s Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving about the winners and losers of the 2014 midterms.

Mitch McConnell isn’t the only Kentucky Senator basking in the afterglow of Tuesday night’s election results.

Rand Paul is using the election as an opportunity to criticize the woman many consider to be the next Democratic Presidential front-runner: Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Paul says he won’t formally decide on whether or not to launch a 2016 presidential bid until next spring. But the Bowling Green Republican is acting the part of a White House contender, and judging from recent comments, he firmly believes Hillary Clinton is his biggest obstacle to winning the presidential contest.

Paul has wasted no time in describing Tuesday night’s Republican victories around the nation as a “repudiation of Hillary Clinton.” In speeches and interviews following the election, Paul has pointed out that the former First Lady and New York Senator campaigned on behalf of several Democratic Senate candidates who ultimately lost—including Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky.

The big headline from last night's midterm elections is that Republicans walloped the Democrats, cashing in on enormous discontent about the state of the country to pick up seven Senate seats and wrest control of the chamber.

That, of course, sets up divided government for the next two years: a Democratic president and a GOP-controlled legislature.

Here are six tidbits that tell the story:

Democrats Maintain Control of Kentucky House

Nov 4, 2014
Kentucky LRC

Update 3:05 a.m.

Democrats wound up keeping 54 of the 100 seats in the Kentucky House, the same number they had going into the election.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Democrats "are very lucky and blessed" to keep control of the House. Stumbo said he'll ask the Democratic majority to re-elect him speaker, the House's top leadership position.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover said he too will run again for his leadership position.

Three incumbents, two Democrats and one Republican, lost to challengers Tuesday. The Democrats included Jimmie Lee of Elizabethtown who had been in the House since 1993. He lost to Republican newcomer Jim DuPlussis of Elizabethtown.

Posted 10:30 p.m.

Kentucky Democrats will retain control of the state's House of Representatives.

Election results were still pouring in late Tuesday, but unofficial results show that the House would not flip parties.

State Republicans had sought to end nearly a century of Democratic control in the House and complete a takeover of the General Assembly.

Democratic House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook believes U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergran Grimes helped bring Democrats to the polls.

"She's stayed strong at the top of the ticket and there's no question that's helped our candidates down the ticket for her to be at the top of the ticket," Adkins said. "And Mitch McConnell's had to concentrate his effort on Alison Grimes instead of concentrating his efforts on us so with her at the top of the ticket its been a big plus for us."

With a loss by Sen. Mark Pryor, the first Democratic incumbent fell in the 2014 midterms, setting off a chain of events that brought the Republicans a new Senate majority. The man who would lead them in Congress, Sen. Mitch McConnell, coasted to a win in Kentucky.

McConnell was projected to defeat Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by a 15-point margin, 56 percent to 41 percent, with almost a third of the vote tallied.

In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor lost to Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, a first-term member of Congress. Pryor has served in the Senate since 2003.

Alix Mattingly

Sen. Mitch McConnell has been reelected and is closing in on his goal of becoming the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

McConnell defeated Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes quickly, with the Associated Press calling the race for McConnell at about 7 p.m., just as polls closed in the western part of the state.

“Secretary Grimes ran a spirited campaign, she won a lot of votes and she won my respect,” McConnell said during his victory speech Tuesday night.  “This was certainly a hard fought contest.”

This means Sen. McConnell will serve as U.S. Senator for six more years.  He was first elected as senator in 1985.

In his victory speech at the Marriott East in Louisville, Sen. McConnell made a pledge to constituents that their voice would "be heard in Washington."

Officials: Few Problems, Steady Election Turnout

Nov 4, 2014
Abbey Oldham

Officials in Kentucky say turnout has been steady and problems few as voters cast ballots for U.S. Senate and other races around the state.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Zellen says there were a few reported problems early on Tuesday involving voting machines and changed polling places, but those were resolved quickly.

 Turnout has been projected to be about 49 percent statewide.

The Kentucky Attorney General's Office reported 52 calls by midmorning, most of which involved procedural questions or issues with residency. Spokeswoman Allison Martin said a handful of calls came in with complaints about alleged vote buying or electioneering. Two calls came from Barren County, both regarded procedural questions.

County clerks reported small problems, including a voting machine in Paducah that jammed and a brief power outage in the Fancy Farm area of western Kentucky. Both issues were resolved.

NPR's 2014 Midterm Election Live Blog

Nov 4, 2014

Follow the NPR Politics Tumblr for live headlines, behind-the-scenes views from campaign headquarters around the country and NPR-style analysis.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Voters across the country are headed to polls this morning. Thirty-six U.S. Senate seats and 36 governor's chairs are in play.

Our friends at It's All Politics have a ton of coverage. We'll leave you with five headlines from across the web that give you a broad overview of what to expect:

Need Help With Questions on Election Day? Go Online

Nov 4, 2014

Online services are available to help Kentucky and Tennessee voters heading out to the polls on Tuesday.

The Kentucky Secretary of State's website and the state Board of Elections website allow voters to verify their polling place, check which races are on the ballot and research candidates.

The Voter Information Center contains registration information, polling place locations and driving directions from voters' addresses to the polling places. The Center is accessible from many mobile devices and sample ballots are also available online.

Officials are encouraging Kentuckians to report any instances or suspicions of vote fraud on Election Day. The Kentucky Attorney General’s election fraud hotline will be open throughout Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Allison Martin says the most common complaints involve vote-buying or campaigning too close to a polling place.

Kentucky’s electioneering law was struck down by a federal judge earlier this year, but while the case is under appeal, it’s still illegal in most cases to promote any candidates within 300 feet of a polling place.

"The only change is that if you have private property that is across the street from a polling place, or near a polling place within that 300 foot boundary,  you do not have to take your sign down," Martin said.

Martin added the election fraud hotline received 205 calls from more than 60 counties during this year’s primary election.

The hotline number is 1-800-328-VOTE.

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

One of the most expensive Senate races in U.S. history will come to an end Tuesday evening when voters decide between Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Grimes spoke to supporters at the Bowling Green United Auto Workers Hall Monday morning. She was dismissive of recent polls that show Sen. McConnell with a growing lead. An NBC/Marist poll released over the weekend gave McConnell a nine point lead.

“That’s the Washington D.C.-beltway punditry.  As you can see, the energy is palpable,” Grimes said, in reference to supporters at her Warren County event. “Kentuckians will have the final word in this election, and I do believe that they are bringing this race home, and will bring us across the finish line successfully.”

Grimes is hoping to become Kentucky’s first female U.S. Senator. On the final day of campaigning before votes are cast Tuesday, the Secretary of State is flying around the state, making appearances with Governor Steve Beshear, Former Governor Martha Layne Collins, and Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

McConnell is spending Monday alongside his fellow Kentucky Republican Senator, Rand Paul of Bowling Green. The two are flying around the state and speaking at airports across the commonwealth, including those in Bowling Green and Owensboro Monday afternoon.

LRC Public Information, Facebook

Republicans will find out in Tuesday's election if they will take control of the Kentucky House for the first time in nearly a century. 

Twenty-nine Democratic incumbents are defending their seats.  With so much at stake, a few of the races have turned especially negative.  Among them, the 23rd District match-up between Representative Johnny Bell and GOP challenger Jeff Jobe, both of Glasgow. 

Personal attacks have dominated the race, which both candidates say were never their intent.  Representative Bell blames a lot of the negative advertising on outside political groups.

"I'm disappointed this race has taken that tone, but in all honesty, it looks like a push from outside interests trying to gain control and power here in the commonwealth of Kentucky without having any connection or vested interest," Bell told WKU Public Radio.

Bell has hammered Jobe for his past DUI conviction and accusations of domestic abuse.  Jobe has made an issue of Bell’s failure to settle a federal tax lien and his legislative record.

If Republicans take over the Senate, the man expected to become the next majority leader is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The title would be the culmination of a political career spanning more than three decades.

But first, McConnell has to win a sixth Senate term in a state where his popularity's been sagging.

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