There's the big story line -- and then there are the fascinating tidbits around the edges of any national election. Here are a few of the latter that I've run across:
- Remember that back in November 2009 the Democrats "stole" a House seat in rural northern New York that hadn't gone Democratic in 150 years? Sarah Palin and the Teabaggers ganged up on the Republican candidate for not being nuts enough. That woman ended up pulling out; the Teabaggers promoted a Conservative Party kook; and unexpectedly Democrat Bill Owens won in CD-23. Well darned if he didn't win again yesterday. I thought at the time changes might be underway in the area. Maybe so.
- I get to spend a lot of summer time on Martha's Vineyard Island off Massachusetts. It's part of CD-10, a seat opened by a Democratic retirement. The district voted strongly for Republican Scott Brown in the January special election, so it looked vulnerable for a Republican pick up. No way. Democrat Bill Keating is the new Congressman, having dispatched a Republican former police officer who was alleged to have covered up that other officers had illegally strip searched a teenage girl.
- Speaking of criminal behavior, it's good to learn that former Marine Lieutenant Ilario Pantano will not be going to Congress from North Carolina. While on duty in Iraq, Pantano pumped 60 rounds into two unarmed Iraqi prisoners. The military charged him with premeditated murder, then backed off for lack of evidence despite other soldiers' accounts of the incident. Pantano wrote a book about his military exploits and challenged incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre. McIntyre is no great shakes (he voted against health insurance reform) but nice to see him knock off Pantano.
- Two practicing Muslims were re-elected to Congress and not even the Teabaggers are taking much notice of this.
- There will be four openly gay members in the next Congress. Barney Frank (MA), Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Jared Polis (CO) will be joined by former Providence, R.I. Mayor David Cicilline. All Democrats, not too surprisingly.
- The forced pregnancy crowd tried again to persuade Colorado voters to legislate that a fetus is a person, outlawing abortion. Just as in 2008, this was voted down by over 70 percent. Voters get irritated when they are confronted with the same measures repeatedly and swat them away peremptorily.