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Democrats achieve Senate tie after sweeping House control

Published 08/11/2006

US Democrats erased the Republican Senate majority today with a cliff-hanger victory in Montana, hours after taking control of the House. But that still did not give them Senate control, which would be established by a battle in Virginia where Democrats held a small lead.

Vice President Dick Cheney would become a tie-breaker in a 50-50 Senate.

The breakdown for the new Senate stood at Democrats 50, Republicans 49, with Virginia still too close to call. Democratic challenger James Webb maintained a small lead over Republican incumbent James Allen, and a recount was possible.

Democrats captured five of the six Republican seats they needed for control - Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Montana - and managed to hold endangered Democratic seats in New Jersey and Maryland.

A succession of tainted Republicans lost seats as their leaders lost power, a stinging referendum on the ways of Washington.

A large majority of voters surveyed across the country said their disgust with corruption influenced their choice.

Democrats took solid control in the House, rebounding after a dozen years in the minority, and dismantled most if not all of the Republican Senate majority.

Setting a standard her party will be judged on in elections two years from now, speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi promised: ``Democrats intend to lead the most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history.''

The California Democrat was on the cusp of making history herself, as the first woman speaker. President George Bush called her this morning to congratulate her.

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