1994 Elections

The 1994 midterm elections represented a dominating triumph for the Republican Party. The GOP gained 8 seats to reclaim control of the Senate, 53-47 (soon to be 55-45 after two Democrats switched parties). More important, a 52-seat Republican gain in the House gave the GOP control of the lower chamber for the first time since 1954. Among the Democrats to be defeated: Speaker of the House Thomas Foley (Washington); Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski (Illinois); and Judiciary Committee chairman Jack Brooks (Texas).

The scope of the Republican victory makes 1994 unlike any election we've covered in this course, even the Watergate races of 1974. Not one Republican incumbent senator, House member, or governor lost in 1994. The smallest margin of victory for any GOP senator was 10 points (Slade Gorton, Washington); and of the 8 GOP gains, only one came by less than 9 percent of the vote. In the House, only two Republicans (Peter Torkildsen of Massachusetts and Jay Dickey of Arkansas) were re-elected by less than 8 percent.

Below is a listing of all the year's freshmen, with data on their elections and subsequent careers.

Republican Senate winners, 1994, who took Democratic-held seats

Spencer Abraham, Michigan. Defeated Rep. Bob Carr (D), 52%-43%, for the seat left vacant when Senator Donald Riegle (D) retired.

A low-profile conservative, Abraham was the only 1994 freshman senator not to win re-election; he was upset by Democrat Debbie Stabenow in 2000, 49%-48%. He then served as secretary of energy during the first Bush term.

Mike Dewine, Ohio. Defeated Joel Hyatt (D), 53%-39%, for the seat left vacant by the retirement of Hyatt's father-in-law, Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D).

A somewhat moderate Republican, Dewine attracted national attention in 2005, when he was a leader in the "Gang of 14" that brokered a Senate deal on judicial nominations and the filibuster. He faces a tough re-election contest in 2006 against Representative Sherrod Brown (D), although he was helped when Paul Hackett, a more centrist Democrat, decided not to run.


Bill Frist, Tennessee. Defeated three-term senator Jim Sasser (D), 56%-42%, in the year's biggest Senate upset.

A Harvard-educated doctor, Frist's close ties to George Bush helped him win the position as Senate Republican leader after Trent Lott was forced to relinquish the post in 2001. Was considered a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 a while back, but has stumbled lately, after scandals involving the seemingly premature sale of family stock and his "diagnosis" of the brain-dead Terry Schiavo on the Senate floor. Is retiring from the Senate in 2006 to focus on his presidential bid.

James Inhofe, Oklahoma. Defeated Rep. Dave McCurdy (D), 55%-40%, for the seat made vacant when Senator David Boren (D) became president of the University of Oklahoma.

The most conservative senator of the 1994 class, and probably one of the two most conservative members of the current Senate (along with his Oklahoma colleague, Tom Coburn). Has been very active on social and cultural issues. Was easily re-elected in 2000, and seems likely to breeze to victory in 2006.

Jon Kyl, Arizona. Defeated Rep. Sam Coppersmith (D), 54%-40%, for the seat made vacant when Senator Dennis DeConcini (D) retired.

Kyl's father represented Iowa in the House; in the Senate, the Arizonan Kyl has been overshadowed by his more flamboyant senior colleague, John McCain. He is considerably more conservative than McCain, but has had little electoral difficulty in what remains a Republican state.

Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania. Defeated first-term senator Harris Wofford (D), 49%-47%.

The #3 person in the Senate Republican leadership (chairman of the Senate Republican Conference), Santorum has been particularly outspoken on social issues, opposing late-term abortion and gay rights. Probably the most conservative Republican to represent a "blue" state in the Senate, he defeated an underfunded Democrat in 2000, but is considered an underdog for reelection in 2006. He currently trails Democratic state treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., by more than 10 points.


Olympia Snowe, Maine. Defeated Rep. Tom Andrews (D), 60%-37%, for the seat left vacant when then-Majority Leader George Mitchell (D) retired.

Snowe's critical victory, as things turned out, occurred in 1992, when she was re-elected to the House with less than 50% when a Green Party candidate siphoned left-wing votes away from her Democratic challenger. In 1994, she crushed Andrews, the state's other congressman, in a race that Andrews began as the favorite. In Maine, she is now politically invulnerable; in Washington, she has emerged as one of the Capitol's two or three most influential Republican moderates.

Fred Thompson, Tennessee. Defeated Rep. Jim Cooper (D), 61%-39%, for the seat previously vacated by Al Gore after his election as vice president.

Although he was easily re-elected in 1996, Thompson soon tired of Senate life, and declined to run for re-election in 2002. (Republicans held the seat.) He returned to his previous career as an actor, and currently plays, in a less-than-credible casting move, Manhattan's district attorney in Law and Order.

Republican House winners, 1994, who took Democratic-held seats

Joe Scarborough (Florida 1). Won open seat, 61%-39%.

An aggressive reformer, he said that House service placed too much strain on his family life. Left Congress to host a talk show on MSNBC. Seat remained Republican.
Matt Salmon (Arizona 1). Won open seat, 56%-39%. As he had promised when he ran, retired after three terms; lost a race for governor in 2002. Seat still Republican. J.D. Hayworth (Arizona 6). Defeated Rep. Karan English, 54%-42%. Still in Congress after tough re-election bids in 1996 and 1998; has been an outspoken conservative. Frank Riggs (Calif. 1). Defeated Rep. Dan Hamburg, 53%-47%. Unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 1998; seat went back to Democrats.
Bob Barr (Georgia 7). Defeated Rep. Buddy Darden, 52%-48%.

Became a nationally known figure as one of Bill Clinton's most vociferous House critics; lost his seat in redistricting in 2002. Has attracted attention since then as a critic of the Patriot Act from the right.
George Radanovich (Calif. 19). Defeated Rep. Richard Lehman, 57%-39%. Still in Congress; the seat had been trending Republican and Radanovich wins easily. Brian Bilbray (Calif. 49). Defeated Rep. Lynn Schenk, 49%-46%. A center-right Republican, was defeated for re-election in 2000. Dave Weldon (Florida 15). Won Open seat, 54%-46%. Helped by a GOP-friendly redistricting, remains in the House.
Charlie Norwood (Georgia 10). Defeated Rep. Don Johnson, 66%-34%, in the most lopsided loss for a House incumbent in the last 40 years.

A former dentist, his highest-profile moment came in 2001, when he abandoned a bipartisan "patients' bill of rights" he had joined three other congressmen in sponsoring, to support the President's version of the bill. Still in Congress.
Saxby Chambliss (Georgia 8). Won open seat, 63%-37%. Served four terms in House; defeated Democratic senator Max Cleland in a controversial 2002 race. His House seat went Democratic. Michael Flanagan (Illinois 5). Defeated Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, 54%-46%. An accidental congressman, won because Rostenkowski was under indictment. Crushed by Rod Blagojevich, who's now the governor of Illinois. Mark Souder (Indiana 4). Defeated Rep. Jill Long 55%-45%. Still in the House; a reliable conservative vote.
Helen Chenoweth (Idaho 1). Defeated Rep. Larry LaRocco, 55%-45%.

One of the most controversial 1994 newcomers, developed a reputation as a hard-line conservative. Insisted on being called "Congressman Chenoweth." Questioned why salmon was considered an endangered species "when you could buy canned salmon in a store." Her critics responded with a bumper sticker of "Can Helen, Not Salmon," but she was re-elected twice before retiring in 2000. Seat stayed Republican, with less flamboyant representation.
David McIntosh (Indiana 2). Won open seat, 54%-46%. A prominent young conservative, left the House (as he promised when he first ran) after three terms. Seat stayed Republican; he unsuccessfully ran for governor of Indiana. John Hostettler (Indiana 8). Defeated Rep. Frank McCloskey, 52%-48%. Has survived several tough re-election campaigns; still in Congress. Attracted unfavorable publicity when he tried to carry a gun onto a plane in Louisville. Greg Ganske (Iowa 4). Defeated Rep. Neal Smith, 53%-46%. One of the year's biggest upsets--Smith had served since 1958. Ganske compiled a moderate record, but lost a bid for the Senate in 2002, against Tom Harkin. Seat's boundaries were considerably altered and stayed Republican.
Sam Brownback (Kansas 2). Won open seat, 66%-34%.

Aggressive social conservative. Served only one term in House (seat stayed Republican) before capturing a Senate seat in 1996. Considering a presidential bid in 2008.
Todd Tiahrt (Kansas 4). Defeated Rep. Dan Glickman, 53%-47%. Glickman had easily been re-elected nine times; Tiahrt was given little chance of victory at start of race. Still in the House; a consistent very conservative vote. Ed Whitfield (Kentucky 1). Defeated Rep. Tom Barlow, 51%-49%. Took one of the year's closest House races, but has easily held the seat as Kentucky has become more GOP-friendly. Jim Longley (Maine 1). Won open seat, 52%-48%. A fluke congressman--well to the right of his southern Maine district (which is home to the webmaster . . .) Was crushed in 1996 by Democrat Tom Allen; ran for Maine governor in 1998 and got less than 20% of the vote.
John Ensign (Nevada 1). Defeated Rep. James Bilbray, 48.5%-47.5% (just over 1000 votes).

Unsuccessfully challenged Harry Reid for the Senate in 1998, losing by only 401 votes; his House seat went back to the Democrats. Elected to the Senate in 2000 after incumbent Richard Bryan retired, and strongly favored again this year.
Dick Chrysler (Michigan 8). Won open seat, 52%-45%. Lost in 1996 to now-senator Debbie Stabenow. Gil Gutknecht (Minnesota 1). Won open seat, 55%-45%. A mainstream conservative, has had little trouble holding this seat. Roger Wicker (Mississippi 1). Won open seat, 63%-37%. Seat became vacant when longtime Appropriations Committee chairman Jamie Whitten retired. Wicker is still in Congress.
Michael Forbes (New York 1). Defeated Rep. George Hochbrueckner, 53%-46%.

Among the oddest members of the 1994 class. A strong conservative, he suddenly decided to switch parties in 1999--only to lose the Democratic primary in 2000, by 39 votes, to a 71-year-old librarian. Seat now controlled by Democrats.
Jon Christensen (Nebraska 2). Defeated Rep. Peter Hoagland, 50.5%-49.5%. Family-values conservative, left the House to run unsuccessfully for governor of Nebraska in 1998. Seat stayed Republican. Charles Bass (New Hampshire 2). Defeated Rep. Dick Swett, 51%-46%. A leader of the usually outnumbered House GOP moderates, has been re-elected comfortably. Bill Martini (New Jersey 8). Defeated Rep. Herb Klein, 50%-49%. Lost to Democrat Bill Pascrell in 1996.
Richard Burr (North Carolina 5). Won open seat, 57%-43%.

Served five terms and then captured the Senate seat vacated by John Edwards in 2004. His House seat stayed Republican. Has become a major player among Southern Republicans
David Funderburk (North Carolina 2). Won open seat, 56%-44%. A Jesse Helms protégé, he lost to Democrat Bob Etheridge in 1996. Fred Heineman (North Carolina 4). Defeated Rep. David Price, 50.4%-49.6%. Lost to Price in 1996, after a gaffe-filled campaign in which he promised to represent the middle class--which he defined as anyone earning less than $750,000 annually. Steve Chabot (Ohio 1). Defeated Rep. David Mann, 56%-44%. Still in Congress, though was strongly tested by then-Cincinnati mayor Roxanne Qualls in 1998.
Bob Ney (Ohio 18). Won open seat, 53%-47%.

 Ney quickly consolidated his hold over this longtime Democratic seat, but has been badly tainted by the Abramoff scandal and could be indicted before November.
Frank Creamans (Ohio 6). Defeated Rep. Ted Strickland, 51%-49%. Lost by the same margin to Strickland in 1996. Steven LaTourette (Ohio 19). Defeated Rep. Eric Fingerhut, 49%-44%. Has made the district a safely Republican one. J.C. Watts (Oklahoma 4). Won open seat, 52%-43%. Former Univ. of Oklahoma QB, one of only two black Republican congressmen since the 1930s. Retired in 2002; seat stayed GOP.
Tom Coburn (Oklahoma 2). Won open seat, 52%-48%.

A practicing doctor and maverick, distinguished himself for strongly conservative positions on social issues and crusades to cut federal spending. As he had promised when he ran, retired after three terms; Democrats recaptured the seat. Ran for and won Oklahoma's open Senate seat in 2004, ironically beating his House successor, Democrat Brad Carson.
Jim Bunn (Oregon 5). Won open seat, 50%-47%. Lost to Democrat Darlene Hooley in 1996. Jon Fox (Penn. 13). Defeated Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, 49%-45%. Lost to Democrat Joe Hoeffel in 1998. Zach Wamp (Tennessee 3). Won open seat, 52%-46%. Mainstream conservative who has had little difficulty winning re-election.
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina 3). Won open seat, 60%-40%.

Came to national prominence during the Clinton impeachment hearings and then in 2000 as one of the few Southern Republicans to back John McCain. Since winning election to the Senate in 2002, has emerged as key player in the party.
Van Hilleary (Tennessee 4). Won open seat, 56%-42%. Activist conservative who served four terms before unsuccessfully running for governor; seat reverted to Democrats. Steve Stockman (Texas 9). Defeated 21-term incumbent Jack Brooks, 52%-46%. A fierce defender of the right to bear arms, known for his ties to some militia groups and tendency to make outrageous statements. Lost to Democrat Nick Lampson in 1996. Mac Thornberry (Texas 13). Defeated Rep. Bill Sarpalius, 55%-45%. District has trended strongly Republican and has had no trouble staying in Congress.
Enid Greene Waldholtz (Utah 2). Defeated Rep. Karen Shepherd, 46%-36%. (Independent Merrill Cook received 18%.)

Viewed as a rising star--she was named to the House Rules Committee and was the first Republican congresswoman to give birth while in office--her career unraveled after allegations of campaign finance improprieties and embezzlement by her campaign manager. That her campaign manager was her husband, whom she then divorced, sealed her fate, and she didn't run for re-election. The Democrats eventually recaptured the seat.
Tom Davis (Virginia 11). Defeated Rep. Leslie Byrne, 52%-46%. Has become a key player in House; served several terms as chairman of Republican House Campaign Committee. Rick White (Washington 1). Defeated Rep. Maria Cantwell, 50.6%-49.4%. Lost in the backlash against the Clinton impeachment in 1998. Cantwell, ironically, had a political comeback, ousting Senator Slade Gorton in 2000. Jack Metcalf (Washington 2). Won open seat, 54%-46%. As promised, served only three terms, and the seat then reverted to Democratic control.
George Nethercutt (Washington 5). Defeated Rep. Tom Foley, 50.6%-49.4%.

Became the first challenger to defeat a sitting House Speaker since the 19th century. Unsuccessfully challenged Senator Patty Murray in 2004; the House district remained Republican.
Linda Smith (Washington 3). Defeated Rep. Jolene Unsoeld, 52%-45%. A conservative who also advocated campaign finance reform, Smith unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 1998; a Democrat captured this seat. Doc Hastings (Washington 4). Defeated Rep. Jay Inslee, 52%-48%. Hastings has held this central Washington district easily; Inslee, meanwhile, moved back to the Seattle area and ousted Rep. Rick White in 1998. Randy Tate (Washington 9). Defeated Rep. Mike Kreidler, 51%-49%. The last of 6 Republicans in 1994 to capture Democratic seats in Washington (which only has 9 House seats), Tate lost in 1996, and then went to work for the Christian Coalition.
Marc Neumann (Wisconsin 1). Defeated Rep. Peter Barca, 50%-49%.

A strong advocate of restraining federal spending and one of the most talented members of the 1994 class, Neumann lost narrowly to Senator Russ Feingold in 1998. The House seat remained Republican.