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The GOP gets a crack at the U.S. Senate

Published by Mike Pound on .

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., joined by his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, celebrates with his supporters at an election night party in Louisville, Ky.,Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP photo)

Mitch McConnell says we're "hungry for new leadership." And we "want a reason to be hopeful."

Whether or not the man who will likely be the next U.S. Senate majority leader is correct in his assessment, the impetus behind it is – the Republicans have taken over the Senate.

The Democrats began the day with a 55-45 majority in the chamber (including two independents). They've ended it in the minority, after Republicans flipped available seats Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and, as we noted much earlier in the evening, West Virginia. And there could be more: late returns from Alaska are expected to show a win for Dan Sullivan and Bill Cassidy is expected to win a Dec. 6 runoff against Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.

We have new leadership, yes. It's not as clear that means we have a reason to be hopeful. The federal government has been stuck in neutral with a split between the houses on Capitol Hill; will a solidified Republican majority make any difference with a Democrat still entrenched in the White House? Can we count on progress when members of Mr. McConnell's own party won't pledge their support to the new majority?

With one third of voters who backed Republican candidates professing disappointment – or even anger – with the GOP, it may be that Mr. McConnell doesn't have much time to figure it out.

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Costa: Dems lose 32nd, 46th Senate seats

Published by Mike Pound on .

Camera BartolottaCamera Bartolotta

By Janice Crompton

A Democratic leader conceded two hard-fought state Senate seats have likely been lost.

Reached late Tuesday, Senate minority leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said it was likely his party would lose the 32nd and 46th Senate Districts.

46th: State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, continues a downward spiral against Republican challenger Camera Bartolotta of Carroll.

Ms. Bartolotta, 50, a small business owner, held tight to a growing lead most of Tuesday night and appeared poised to snatch the seat from Mr. Solobay, who has held it since 2010, when longtime Democratic Sen. J. Barry Stout retired.

Mr. Solobay, 58, a volunteer fire chief, has not conceded the race, but has yet to take the lead against Ms. Bartolotta.

32nd: There weren't many races nastier than the one to replace retiring Sen. Rich Kasunic, but in the end, a Republican -- the first in decades to hold the seat -- was the winner, Costa said. Pat Stefano beat out Democratic state Rep. Deb Kula for the win.

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Tight races in two 46ths

Published by Mike Pound on .

State Sen. Tim Solobay

We have two 46th districts – one in the state Senate and one in the state House – and two incumbents who are struggling to hold on to their seats.

During the campaign we've heard plenty about Democrat state Sen. Tim Solobay's work as a volunteer firefighter. But we've also heard about Mr. Solobay accepting per diems and perks, all courtesy of Solobay's challenger Camera Bartolotta. Whose pitch worked? Republican Bartolotta has a lead of about 1,500 votes at 9:45 p.m.

On the state House side, Rep. Jesse White went from making a terrible mistake – the one where he took on fake social media names to attack opponents – to regain his footing in time to hold on to his seat in the 46th district. But Mr. White, like Solobay a Democrat, had to work to fend off attacks from Jason Ortitay, who held a lead of about 1,200 votes as of 9:45 tonight.