SPECIAL REPORT: Power shifts in DC and legislatures across the nation

| 11/8/2006

Nov. 8, 2006 - The wave of change that washed over Capitol Hill on Election Tuesday rippled across much of the nation, with Democrats also taking control of several state legislative chambers.

More than 6,100 individual state representatives' and senators' seats were on ballots, and preliminary results Wednesday showed the Democrats winning new majorities in at least six state legislative chambers.

In New Hampshire, for example, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1922, according to The Associated Press. Other states that saw shifts to the Democrats in their legislative bodies were Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Democratic Party also widened its majority in several other statehouses, including Colorado, Kentucky and North Carolina, according to Reuters. And, for the first time in 40 years, Democrats control the House, Senate and governor's mansion in Iowa.

Nationwide, going into the midterm election, Republicans had majorities in both legislative chambers in 20 states and Democrats had 19 statehouses. An even 10 states were split between the two major parties at the state legislative level. Nebraska's unicameral Legislature remains non-partisan.

One important result of the shifting balance of power involves the state legislatures' power to redraw congressional districts, which can have an impact on the outcome of the next round of U.S. House elections in two years, according to Alan Rosenthal, a professor of policy and political science at Rutgers University.

But analysts are quick to point out that Tuesday's election is not a landslide. The balance of power was close going in and remains close.

Tim Storey, an elections analyst at the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures, had calculated before Tuesday that there were 29 state legislative chambers where a shift of only five seats would change partisan control.

That delicate balance was similar to the situation in Washington, DC, where the breakdown in the U.S. House was 229 Republicans, 201 Democrats and one Independent prior to Tuesday's election. In the Senate, there were 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one Independent going into the mid-term election.

Some of the House and Senate races were still too close to call Wednesday afternoon, but unofficial results from secretaries of state offices across the country and The AP showed that the Democrats had taken over the U.S. House with 225 seats, compared to 189 seats that were definitely won by Republicans. The U.S. Senate was breaking even at 49 Democrats and 49 Republicans, with votes still being counted in races in Montana and Virginia.

Following is a partial list of how several U.S. House members fared in the election. These incumbents are likely familiar to Land Line readers because of their ties to the trucking industry. The following results have been rounded up to the nearest percentage point and reflect unofficial vote totals.

U.S. House of Representatives

John Boozman (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Arkansas, District 3
Outcome: Won
Percentage of vote: 71 percent
Major opponent: Woodrow Anderson (D)
Why do you care? Boozman was noted for introducing legislation that, if it had not failed, would have allowed truckers a two-hour break that did not count against the HOS on-duty clock.

Leonard Boswell (D)
Race: U.S. Representative - Iowa, District 3
Outcome: Won
Percentage of vote: 52 percent
Major opponent: Jeff Lamberti (R)
Why do you care? He serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

Ben Chandler III (D)
Race: U.S. Representative - Kentucky, District 6
Outcome: Won
Percentage of vote: 86 percent
Major opponent: Paul Ard (L)
Why do you care? He is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Chandler spoke at an OOIDA PAC luncheon in Louisville in March and showed strong interest in professional truck drivers.

Mac Collins (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Georgia, District 8
Outcome: Defeated
Percentage of vote: 49 percent
Major opponent: Jim Marshall (D)
Why do you care? Collins gave up his House seat in 2004 for an unsuccessful Senate bid. Truckers very likely have a lot in common with Collins. He founded Collins Trucking Co., now operated by one of his sons. He jumped into trucking right out of high school, driving old trucks in the daytime and working on them nearly every night. Collins has worked to push for common sense emission regulations for truck engines. He is on OOIDA's side in opposing efforts to turn interstate highways into toll roads. And he has said he will work hard to see that U.S. customs and immigration laws are enforced on foreign trucks that enter the U.S. because of NAFTA.

Peter DeFazio (D)
Race: U.S. Representative - Oregon, District 4
Outcome: Won
Percentage of vote: 63 percent
Major opponent: James Feldkamp (R)
Why do you care? Currently serves as the top Democrat on the Highway, Transit & Pipelines Subcommittee. He scolded Gov. Mitch Daniels for "outsourcing political will to private companies" with the Indiana Toll Road lease and FHWA Administrator Rick Capka for portraying toll roads as a panacea for highway funding.

 John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr. (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Tennessee, District 2
Outcome: Won
Percentage of vote: 78 percent
Major opponent: John Greene (D)
Why do you care? He is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Duncan has strong interests in the trucking industry. In a guest column for Land Line Magazine, he addressed fuel costs and trucking bankruptcies. He is concerned with the fact that no new refineries have been built in the U.S. since 1975 and that others have been forced to cease operations. In October 2004, he told Land Linereaders: "Our nation must dramatically increase its domestic energy production in order to avert serious economic consequences in the near future. We must adopt a comprehensive energy plan and enact policies at the federal level that allow our nation to free itself from its current level of dependence on foreign energy producers."

Sam Graves (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Missouri, District 6
Outcome: Won 
Percentage of vote: 62 percent
Major opponent: Sara Shettles (D)
Why do you care? As chairman of the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Enterprises, Agriculture, and Technology, he held a roundtable at OOIDA headquarters this fall that looked into the redundancy and inequities of the hazmat background check program.

Ron Lewis (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Kentucky, District 2
Outcome: Won 
Percentage of vote: 57 percent
Major opponent: Mike Weaver (D)
Why do you care? He praised truckers at the OOIDA PAC luncheon at the 2006 Mid-America Trucking Show for being the backbone of the American economy.

Juanita Millender-McDonald (D)
Race: U.S. House of Representatives - California, District 37
Outcome: Won 
Percentage of vote: 82 percent
Major opponent: Herb Peters (L)
Why do you care? Authored one of the first bills aimed at replacing or retrofitting high-emissions trucks. A similar bill in the Senate - the Diesel Truck Retrofit and Fleet Modernization Program - passed into law as part of the 2005 Energy Bill.

Anne M. Northup (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Kentucky, District 3
Outcome: Defeated 
Percentage of vote: 48 percent
Major opponent: John Yarmuth (D)
Why do you care? She was a member of the Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal spending on transportation issues. Northup spoke to OOIDA members at a PAC luncheon in Louisville in March 2005 and showed strong interest in representing small business owners.

James L. Oberstar (D)
Race: U.S. Representative - Minnesota, District 8
Outcome: Won 
Percentage of vote: 63 percent
Major opponent: Rod Grams (R)
Why do you care? Oberstar is the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and will be the new chairman of that powerful committee. Among other things, the T&I committee has jurisdiction over America's surface transportation - including trucking. He has been a guest columnist for Land Line Magazine and a guest on "Land Line Now" on XM Satellite Radio.

Tom Petri (R)
Race: U.S. House of Representatives - Wisconsin, District 6
Outcome: Won
Major opponent: Unopposed
Why do you care? He served as the chairman of the Highway, Transit & Pipelines Subcommittee during the past two highway bill reauthorizations, SAFETEA-LU and TEA-21. Petri will be in the running for the top Republican spot on the Transportation Committee in the 110th Congress.

Mike Sodrel (R)
Race: U.S. Representative - Indiana, District 9
Outcome: Defeated 
Percentage of vote: 47 percent
Major opponent: Baron Hill (D)
Why do you care? He was a member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Losing Sodrel's representation must be considered a loss for trucking, as Sodrel's business is trucking and he was a savvy friend to the industry. In 1987, Sodrel purchased Sodrel Truck Lines from his family and grew the company from 150 employees to a 500-person operation with offices in Jeffersonville, IN, and Indianapolis, and trucks and motor coaches on highways across the Midwest.

U.S. Senate

Conrad Burns (R)
Race: U.S. Senate - Montana
Outcome: Defeated 
Percentage of vote: 49 percent
Major opponent: Jon Tester (D)
Why do you care? Truckers have some interest in this race as Burns serves on a number of committees important to trucking, including the Appropriations Committee, Small Business Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. In 2006, Burns sponsored a bill known as the Veterans Employment and Training Act, designed to enhance GI Bill benefits. OOIDA belongs to a group of organizations supporting that bill. The bill was also sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-AR.

Trent Lott (R)
Race: U.S. Senate - Mississippi
Outcome: Won 
Percentage of vote: 79 percent
Major opponent: Erik Fleming (D)
Why do you care?Lott is currently chairman of the Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee, but has not always sided with small-business truckers on transportation matters.

Jim Talent (R)
Race: U.S. Senate - Missouri
Outcome: Defeated 
Percentage of vote: 47 percent
Major opponent: Claire McCaskill (D)
Why do you care? Talent recently co-sponsored an amendment to the port security bill with Sen. Mark Pryor, R-AR, which will lead to improvements in security in the trucking industry.

-- Compiled by Land Line writers Aaron Ladage, Coral Beach, Jami Jones, Clarissa Kell-Holland and Sandi Soendker