Washington – Democrats lost control of the U.S. Senate Tuesday in a GOP tide that rolled across the nation, plunging Connecticut’s Democratic senators – Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy – into the minority.
Blumenthal, elected in 2010, has never been in the minority in Congress. Murphy has been during his years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In an interview as CNN was projecting the Democratic loss of the Senate, Blumenthal said he hoped to remain effective.
He said he is fortunate to sit on panels, the Senate Armed Forces Committee the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee, that have a history of bipartisanship.
“We are going to continue to build two submarines a year,” Blumenthal said.
He said he mourned the electoral losses of several close colleagues Tuesday night, including Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, the first Senate incumbent to lose a seat, and Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.
In all, the GOP picked up at least seven Senate seats Tuesday evening.
While many say the GOP wave was a referendum on President Obama, Blumenthal rejected that idea, saying angst about the economy and other issues was to blame.
“In some parts of the country, there’s a negative feeling about the direction of the country, despite economic progress,” Blumenthal said. “There were daunting challenges…so people are worried and concerned which reflected on the president and incumbents.”
Blumenthal also said the election “is a mandate for more bipartisanship and cooperation, for more comity and civility.”
“I think the key is to find common goals (with Republicans),” Blumenthal said.
In the next Congress, which will be gaveled in in January, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will likely be the next majority leader in the Senate, replacing Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
McConnell fended off a Democratic challenger and in his victory speech spoken in conciliatory tones.
“Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict,” McConnell said.
Nevertheless, the turnover of the Senate will have impact on the clout of Connecticut’s senators.
What concerns Murphy is the addition of “a bunch of more radical Republicans in the GOP ranks.”
Some of the Republicans who were newly elected to the Senate have tea party ties, including Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
“The momentum that the tea party could get tonight is really what has been keeping me up at night,” Murphy said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a leader of the tea party movement on Capitol Hill, said the results of Tuesday’s polling was a “powerful repudiation of the Obama agenda.”
Blumenthal conceded “it’s just a tough time politically.”
Democrats, who are in the minority in the House of Representatives, also lost seats in that chamber.