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Election in US Heartland Produces Setbacks for Republicans


In America's "heartland" states, voters showed support for moderate candidates and policies, electing Democrat Claire McCaskill to the Senate over Republican incumbent Jim Tallent. Voters also elected a Democrat to fill the seat once held by former Republican House leader Tom DeLay in Texas.

The senate race in Missouri was too close to call on into the early morning hours, Wednesday, but incumbent Republican Jim Tallent conceded defeat, handing one more win to the Democrats. President Bush had campaigned with Tallent and the senator had given strong support to the president and the war in Iraq.

Claire McCaskill drew support from voters who are disenchanted with the war and with the Bush administration.

For Democrats one of the sweetest victories Tuesday came in the 22nd Texas Congressional District, which stretches across an area south of Houston. This had been the district held by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, until he resigned under a cloud of scandal in June.

As a result of Tuesday's voting, the seat will now belong to Democrat Nick Lampson.

"To talk about homeland security and fiscal responsibility and education and health care, that is what asked me to do, that is what we have done and, I believe, that is what has brought us here tonight, ladies and gentlemen," he said.

Part of the reason Lampson won is that DeLay's exit from the race at a late date prevented the Republicans from putting someone else on the ballot. The party tried to rally conservative voters behind a write-in campaign for Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula Gibbs, but the effort failed.

Republicans held on to the governor's mansion in Texas, but not with a majority. Governor Rick Perry won with around 40 percent of the vote in a race against Democrat Chris Bell and two colorful independent candidates -Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and country singer Richard "Kinky" Friedman. Perry told supporters Tuesday night that he would reach out to the majority of voters who voted against him and be the governor for all Texans.

In other heartland election results, voters in South Dakota rejected a law, passed by the state legislature earlier this year, that imposed the most severe restrictions on abortion in the nation. Supporters of the law had hoped it would be challenged in court so that it would ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court, where they had hopes of overturning the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortions. However, many South Dakota voters expressed unease with their state being used as the battleground for this issue.

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