Democrats appear to be a step closer to their goal of picking up seats in the Senate, as North Carolina state Sen. Kay Hagan is projected to defeat incumbent GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole, according to the Associated Press.
“Outside groups spent more than $16 million in North Carolina attacking Dole and Hagan, with much of it coming from Democrats,” the AP reported. “Dole, of Salisbury, responded by putting some $3 million of her own money into the race.”
The race, which grew extremely heated in its final weeks over Dole’s controversial religious ad and Hagan’s response to the ad, was also one of the most expensive races in the country this year.
Dole, a well-known figure in the GOP and wife of the 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, appeared headed for re-election earlier this year, but she has been hurt by revelations that she’s spent little time in North Carolina in the past year, the AP reported.
Hagan spent much of the campaign introducing herself to voters in person and on television, mimicking the technique that led her uncle — former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles — to move from the Florida Legislature to the U.S. Senate.
The idea of a Democrat holding a seat long-held by the late Republican Sen. Jesse Helms represents a sea shift in the state’s politics — even though he might have applauded Dole’s campaign tactics, Time magazine reported.
In other Senate races, Democrat Mark Warner captured the Virginia seat that had been held by retiring Republican John Warner.
Republicans, meanwhile, have held onto a seat in Oklahoma with the re-election of James Inhofe.