Republicans will begin the 114th Congress in control of the Senate, but their former colleague Scott Brown will not be among them.
The Associated Press called the race in favor of Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, with one-third of precincts reporting and the incumbent ahead 52 percent to 48 percent. By Wednesday afternoon, with all precincts in, that lead remained virtually unchanged.
At her re-election event after midnight, Shaheen was all smiles as she was greeted by supporters chanting her name.
“Tonight the people of New Hampshire chose to put New Hampshire first,” she said.
During the event, Shaheen told supporters what was on her agenda for her second term – student loan reform, a “smart” energy policy, a minimum wage increase and pay equity – all of which will likely face strong opposition by the newly minted Republican Senate majority. Shaheen said she would work across the aisle “to get things done” to help the state’s “working families and small businesses.”
Brown, who held off conceding after the first AP projection, made a midnight speech of his own. Although it was not the speech he had hoped to be reading early Wednesday morning, he was humble and congratulatory toward his opponent.
“We stood strong, we fought, even in defeat,” he said. “You’ve got no business in politics unless you respect the judgment of the people….I respect the decision of the voters and I have already expressed my sincerest congratulations and good will wishes to Senator Shaheen.”
Despite his loss, Brown remarked that it was “a good night in America” because the Senate is in the hands of the Republican Party.
“Regardless of what happens here tonight I have one thing that has come true,” Brown said. “Harry Reid is the minority leader.”
With the loss, Brown is the first candidate to lose to two women in elections in different states. In 2012 he lost his Massachusetts seat to Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman, also congratulated Shaheen on her victory, noting that her win represents the first time a Democrat has won a second Senate term in New Hampshire since 1972 when Thomas J. McIntyre defeated Republican Wesley Powell in his re-election bid.
“Jeanne has been a dedicated and fierce leader for this state for decades,” Buckley said in a release. “She is the best possible person to be serving the people of New Hampshire in the Senate. She fights for all of us.”
Despite being challenged in the primary by former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and former State Senator Jim Rubens, it was clear that Brown was the GOP favorite from the onset of the race. He dispatched his primary challengers handily and quickly set his sights on Shaheen. Even before that primary win, pundits knew that the general election would pit Brown against Shaheen and called the race a “toss-up.”
Polling throughout the race was usually very close and RealClearPolitics had Shaheen as the favorite by less than 1 percent. The debates were contentious and sometimes personal. Brown portrayed his opponent as President Obama’s “No. 1 foot soldier” who voted with his policies “99 percent” of the time.
Shaheen and the Democrats painted Brown as a carpetbagger, but were careful to never use that term. His detractors said that he had moved to New Hampshire for the sole purpose of furthering his political career, not for the best interests of the citizens.
After Shaheen won, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) dismissed Brown as a “political opportunist.”
Aside from being one of the most contested of the midterm races, the New Hampshire Senate battle was also one of the most expensive. The final tally saw Shaheen raise almost twice as much as Brown, according to the candidates’ Federal Election Committee filings. The Democrat raised $14,654,878 to the Republican’s $7,362,842.
Outside groups poured millions of dollars in the race as well. According to Center for Responsive Politics data, the total amount spent by outside groups totaled more than $29.3 million, with American Crossroads, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Ending Spending Action Fund, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, NextGen Climate Action, Senate Majority PAC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce leading the pack in terms of money spent on the race.
For the groups that backed Shaheen, it appears to have been money well spent. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), chairman of the DSCC, which funded almost $4 million of Shaheen’s re-election bid, congratulated his colleague following the win.
“Tonight’s results are great for the people of New Hampshire and middle class families across the country,” Bennet said in a statement after the AP called the race. “As the first woman to serve as both Governor and U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen is the epitome of New Hampshire values and has been a relentless advocate for the Granite State in Washington.”