The 2014 elections showed a strong Republican wave of support, with key demographics supportive of Democrats, such as voters under 25, single women, and African-American voters underrepresented versus previous elections even more than polls had anticipated. Republicans gained 7 seats (potentially 8 with Louisiana) in the Senate, a clean sweep of almost all the competitive Senate races and with it gained a Republican majority.
This means Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will become the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, while Congressman John Kline (R-MN) keeps his chairmanship in the House Education and Workforce Committee.
This wave created surprises for “safe” candidates like Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who finished with less than a one percent win over challenger Ed Gillespie. It also created anti-Democrat momentum in races for governorships that the GOP was considered likely to lose.
Tea Party Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), who has famously taken on teachers unions and slashed education budgets by over $1,000 per pupil, was reelected with 52% of the votes versus his challenger Mary Burke with 46%. This extended to Governor Rick Snyder’s (R-MI) reelection, and traditional Democratic strongholds Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland electing GOP governors over their Democrat incumbents. While Democrats picked up Pennsylvania’s Governorship from Tom Corbett (R-PA), largely attributed to the anger over his cuts in education, it seemed a unique win in the deep red map.
Update: Key House Races
Tim Bishop (D-NY) lost to Lee Zeldin (R-NY) 45.2%-45.8%.
Embattled Tim Bishop of the House Education and the Workforce Committee lost to opponent, Representative Lee Zeldin, after the record $8.7 million dollars in outside spending. Zeldin is calling for a reduction in federal spending and regulation in education, while the unseated Bishop pushed for increased funding, including of historically Black and Hispanic serving institutions.
Dave Loebsack (D-IA) wins against Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) 55.2%-44.6%.
Representative Dave Loebsack, another Education and the Workforce member, won against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was on her third try to unseat him. Miller-Meeks had not fleshed out her education platform much beyond restoring more local control, while Loebsack has a clear record supporting federal funding for failing schools, including sponsoring bills to increase educational access to underserved students.
Renee Ellmers (R-NC) beats challenger Clay Aiken (D-NC) 59%-41%.
Republican Renee L. Ellmers and her opposition to federal education programs, as expected, beat former special education teacher and American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken. In a midterm election where voter turnout is likely to be tremendously low, Aiken’s celebrity factor may help pull in more supporters.
Update: Key Senate Races
Kay Hagan (D-NC) loses to Thom Tillis (R-NC) 47.3%- 49%.
Hagan, a member of the HELP Committee and strong supporter of reducing class sizes and increasing teacher pay, while altering the No Child Left Behind act for more local control over evaluation, lost to her GOP challenger and, with it, her seat on the HELP committee. Incoming Senator Thom Tillis, who increased the North Carolina education budget—though nearly $500 million short of what school districts requested, has pledged to be a strong supporter of education.
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wins over Scott Brown (R-NH) 51.6% – 48.4%.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen was one of the only Democratic wins among competitive Senate races, which means she will likely return to the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Scott Brown was hampered by allegations that he moved to New Hampshire just to run for Shaheen’s seat after losing to Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. Brown opposed Common Core, but the closeness of the win may cause Shaheen to maintain a more conservative stance on policy moving forward.
In Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy will have a runoff election.
Landrieu received 42%, Cassidy got 41%, and Rob Maness, another Republican, got 13.8%. The close results mean it will be months before Louisiana’s seat is decided. The contrast between Landrieu’s support of Common Core and Cassidy’s rejection will make them sharply different legislators in education policy.
“New Day, New Congress, Same Great Music Education Cause,” a letter from NAfME Assistant Executive Director Christopher Woodside.
Alexandra Eaton, Policy Analyst/Coordinator, November 6, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)