November 10th, 2006 04:36 EST
Candidates Defeated in Midterm Elections Graciously Concede
Washington – Saying “the owners of the government have spoken and I respect their decision,” U.S. Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican, formally conceded his race for re-election and largely ended the drama of the American midterm elections.
That contest, the final result to be announced among 33 Senate races in 2006, shifted political control of the Senate. When the 110th Congress convenes in January 2007, Democratic senators and representatives will serve as committee chairs and a Democrat will be speaker of the House of Representatives.
Allen, in his November 9 concession speech, followed an honored tradition in U.S. politics by congratulating his successor well.
“I wish Jim Webb well and pledge him my absolute cooperation in the transition,” Allen said, promising that he would do all in his power to act “with respect for the wishes of the people of Virginia … to bind factions together for a positive purpose”.
The 2006 U.S. midterm elections illustrated the inherent stability of the electoral process in the United States. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of strong democracy, and American elections repeatedly have resulted in orderly transitions in the political control of the nation.
In the elections held November 7, U.S. citizens chose approximately one-third of the delegates to the U.S. Senate and all delegates to the House of Representatives. In 36 states and two U.S. territories, they also elected governors. Dubbed the midterm elections because they fall in the middle of the president’s four-year term, these elections offer the opportunity for a change in the political control of Congress and sometimes serve as an unofficial referendum on presidential policies.
After an especially volatile campaign season, many of the losing candidates conceded defeat in appearances before supporters on late on November 7 or on November 8 by congratulating their opponents and wishing them successful terms in office.
"I congratulate him, and I mean that wholeheartedly," Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum said after losing a U.S. Senate race to Democrat Bob Casey. "He ran an excellent campaign. He is a fine man and I know that he will do a fine job for Pennsylvania. Please give him a round of applause."
Many candidates also used their concession speeches to reiterate their confidence in democracy and in the American system of government.
“I love my country more than I love this process … when politics works, people live better and safer lives, when America is strong and great, the world is a better and safer place,” said Representative Harold Ford, Democratic senatorial candidate for Tennessee, in his concession speech.
Democrat Charles Fogarty, conceding his very close gubernatorial race against the incumbent Republican governor of Rhode Island, said, "We have incredible potential in Rhode Island, and it's time we came together to realize that potential."
Fogarty added, "It's time that we put aside politics and ideology and get onto the business of governing."
Ford’s and Forgarty’s words about American democracy and government echo statements made by other candidates unsuccessful in previous American elections.
In his concession speech after losing the 1992 presidential election to Bill Clinton, President George H. W. Bush said, "Here's the way we see it and the country should see it, that the people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system. There is important work to be done, and America must always come first. So we will get behind this new president, and wish him well."
The cooperation and compromise inherent in the American system of government ensure that the government’s business will continue in a peaceful manner after the elections. The 109th Congress will reconvene November 13 to complete its session; the 110th Congress will convene for the first time in January.
Although the results of the election were disappointing to the losing candidates, most acknowledged, sometimes very eloquently, that respecting the wishes of the American people is the fundamental requirement for aspiring to public office.
“There was a strong headwind working against us,” said Ford, “but in the end the choice belonged to the good people of Tennessee. They ignored distractions and distortions, and instead focused on the different qualifications of two men and … made up their mind.”
Santorum said that the people of Pennsylvania “are so resilient, they're so committed and strong, and they're also pretty darn tough and opinionated.” Although such characteristics ended up working against him, he recognized that possessing such qualities is “a good thing”.
The conciliatory speeches of candidates across the country also reflected the honor they felt while representing their constituencies and expressed a renewed commitment to public service.
After his loss in his campaign for U.S. Senate, Republican Thomas Kean Jr. of New Jersey said that he would, “continue working in the New Jersey [state] Senate to change the way in which the public’s business in conducted.”
“I want all of you to go on and look for opportunities as I will for service to the community and the country,” said Republican Senator Jim Talent of Missouri in his concession speech after his loss to Democrat Claire McCaskill.
President Bush echoed the statements of other political leaders in his readiness to accept the results of election and begin working with the new Congress. He told reporters on November 8 that he already had congratulated several Democrats on running strong campaigns. (See related article.)
Congressional Democratic candidates “ran a disciplined campaign … were well-organized and did a superb job of turning out their votes,” the president said.
Bush added that he looked forward to working with Democrats during the next two years. “[I]t is now our duty to put the elections behind us and work together with the Democrats and independents on the great issues facing this country.”
For additional information, see 2006 Midterm Elections.