President George W. Bush was reelected Tuesday, garnering 51.1 percent of the nearly 114 million votes cast to Senator John Kerry’s 48 percent. He clinched the race when Kerry conceded the battleground state of Ohio at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Bush received 58.6 million votes, Kerry received 55 million votes and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took nearly 400,000 votes. Kerry easily won New York with nearly 58 percent, followed by Bush at 40.5 percent and Nader at 1 percent.
While voters across the country were engaged in what was commonly called the “most important election of our lifetime,” Queens voters cast ballots for United States senator and representatives and in local elections for State Senate and Assembly.
In Flushing, businessman Jimmy Meng, a Democrat, became the first-ever Asian-American member of the state Assembly, handily defeating Republican challenger Meilin Tan. Meng was expected to win after defeating incumbent Barry Grodenchik in September for the party nomination
Meng joins Councilman John Liu as the city’s first two Asian-American legislators. Liu was elected to the Council in 2002. “It’s time for a change. You can trust me,” Meng said. “I believe I can provide better service to my community, just like John Liu.”
All other incumbent Queens Assembly and Senate members were handily reelected. Senators Ada Smith, Frank Padavan, Malcolm Smith, Serphin Maltese and Toby Ann Stavisky ran unopposed and will return to Albany. John Sabini also won in a walkover following a brutal primary race with Luis Rosero.
Senator George Onorato of Astoria easily defeated his challenger, Republican Danniel Maio.
Assemblywoman Ann Margaret Carrozza had the tightest race in Queens, but even that was a virtual walkover with Carrozza taking nearly two-thirds of over 38,000 votes cast. Assembly members Michael Cohen, Michele Titus, Vivian Cook and Jose Peralta all easily defeated their opponents.
Assembly members Audrey Pheffer, Mark Weprin, Brian McLaughlin, Nettie Mayersohn, William Scarborough, Margaret Markey, Barbara Clark, Ivan Lafayette, Jeffrion Aubry, Michael Gianaris, Catherine Nolan and Anthony Seminerio ran unopposed.
Queens will also be sending its members of Congress back to Washington. Representatives Gary Ackerman, Joseph Crowley, Anthony Weiner, Nydia Velazquez, Carolyn Maloney and Charles Rangel, who represents a sliver of northwest Queens, all beat Republican challengers and will serve new two-year terms.
Congressman Gregory Meeks, who served as a senior advisor to the Kerry campaign, was reelected without opposition. Meeks was expected to receive a cabinet position in a Kerry administration.
Senator Charles Schumer posted a record victory over challengers Howard Mills and Marilyn O’Grady. Schumer received over 70 percent of the votes cast, the highest total ever for a New York senator.
Across the nation, the balance of power continued shifting toward the Republican Party, which gained at least three seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The most surprising upset was that of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who lost a tight race to Republican John Thune, a former congressman.
Barack Obama of Illinois, one of the stars of the Democratic National Convention, became only the third African-American senator since Reconstruction, demolishing the hastily-arranged candidacy of radio talk show host Alan Keyes. Obama received 70 percent of the vote.
The Senate will also have its first two Latino members in over 25 years, both of whom survived close elections. Democrat Attorney General Ken Salazar of Colorado beat beer magnate Pete Coors 50 percent to 48 percent while Republican Mel Martinez of Florida defeated Betty Castor by the same margin.
In other notable races, Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame baseball pitcher who had turned heads recently with erratic behavior, squeaked by Democratic challenger Daniel Mongiardo, a state senator, in a race that tightened right up until Election Day. The GOP picked up John Edwards’ Senate seat in North Carolina after Congressman Richard Burr defeated Erskine Bowles, who was the former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.
The splits give the Republican party a 51-48 majority in the Senate with one independent. The GOP holds a 228-206 edge in the House with three races yet to be called.
The major parties split the governors’ races across the country with one race still undecided. The GOP controls 28 states while the Democrats control 22.