The New Elephant in the Room

Oregon U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s ascension to House Leadership marks the first time in decades an Oregonian has held such a high-ranking position in either the House or the Senate. Photo by House GOP Leader.As expected, the Democrats suffered a crushing defeat in the House last Tuesday, losing more than 60 seats and losing control of the chamber to the Republicans. The GOP gains exceed those made during the Republican wave of 1994 when the party picked up 54 House seats.

Not since 1948 has the party made such monumental inroads. With 218 seats needed for a majority, Republicans so far have officially won 233, while Democrats have won 174.

The news was better for Democrats in the Senate, though still not good. Despite losing six seats (with two still too close to call), Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, narrowly prevailed and his party hung onto control by winning hard-fought contests in California, Delaware, Colorado, Connecticut and West Virginia.

The more notable impact on Oregon from the national election is the shift in power to Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR). While Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio have enjoyed powerful majority Committee posts during the last four years, their roles now will be marginalized as they settle into the new Democratic minority. House rules allow for little influence from the minority.