Republicans make a clean sweep in Washington

Republicans achieve control on Election Day; mixed results on state ballot initiatives; TPP looks dead for now; Torrey leading USDA transition; Congress leadership selections coming.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

November 14, 2016

4 Min Read
Republicans make a clean sweep in Washington

The Republicans had a clean sweep on election night with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president and keeping control of both the Senate and the House.

Defying polls, political pundits and some within his own party, Trump captured key swing states of Florida and North Carolina and the Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It is the first time since the 1980s that a Republican running for president has carried Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

He gained larger vote totals in rural areas and outer suburbs than recent Republican candidates. He was able to tap into the economic anxieties of blue-collar voters especially in the Rust Belt and rural communities who believe Washington has forgotten them and they have not benefited from the global economy.

His anti-trade message on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement played well with voters in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Also, Trump’s attacks on the Washington establishment and elite by saying it was time to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., became a rallying cry for many of his supporters.

Now president-elect Trump begins work on his transition of naming his cabinet and key administration officials, begins work on a proposed fiscal year ’18 budget, and prepares his legislative package for the 105th Congress.


Republicans will maintain control of the Senate (51-48 with one outstanding) by successfully defending a number of seats that were considered vulnerable. They include Rob Portman (Ohio), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Richard Burr (North Carolina) and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin). Congressman Todd Young (R-IN) maintained the Indiana Senate seat of retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) by beating former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh. Democrats had high hopes to win Indiana and Wisconsin.

Democrats gained only two seats. Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D) defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R) and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) defeated Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). They also maintained the seat of retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto defeating Republican Congressman Joe Heck. There is one outstanding race to be decided. Louisiana will hold a December runoff election between State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) and Foster Campbell (D) who is a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Louisiana state law requires a candidate to obtain 50% of the vote.

Republicans will maintain control of the House of Representatives (238-193 with four races outstanding). Democrats gained six seats.

All members of the Senate Agriculture Committee who were up for re-election won. They are Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the committee, Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Boozman (R-AR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and John Thune (R-SD).

Only one member of the House Agriculture Committee was defeated. Congressman Brad Ashford (D-NE) lost to Republican Don Bacon.

Currently there will be six vacancies on the committee next year with the defeat of Ashford and five members retiring from the House. More vacancies are expected because some members have indicated they would like to move to other committees. Committee assignments will be finalized early next year.

Ballot initiatives have mixed results
There were a number of state ballot initiatives the agriculture community was following.

♦ Animal welfare — Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly supported Question 3, a ban on the production and sale of animal products produced through confinement practices. It also applies to animal products sold in the state. The law takes effect January 2022. Massachusetts becomes the second state to adopt this type of policy.

♦ Soda tax — Three cities in California (San Francisco, Oakland and Albany) and Boulder, Colo., approved a one-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks.

♦ Right-to-farm — Oklahoma voters rejected a constitutional Right-to-Farm amendment. Opposing the measure was Oklahoman’s for Food, Farm and Family and the Humane Society of the U.S.

♦ Right-to-hunt & fish — Indiana and Kansas both passed amendments known as the Right-to-Hunt & Fish.

TPP done for now
Hopes for Congress to consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement have vanished after Tuesday’s election. President-elect Donald Trump made his opposition to TPP a major issue in the campaign.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week that Congress will not consider TPP during the lame-duck session.

Torrey to lead USDA transition
Mike Torrey has been named to lead the Trump transition team at the USDA. Torrey has 25 years of experience on agricultural issues. Currently he is head of Michael Torrey Associates where he represents a number of agricultural companies and associations. Torrey served as USDA Deputy Chief of Staff during President George W. Bush’s administration and was agricultural adviser to Sen. Bob Dole (KS).

Congressional leadership selections coming
House and Senate Republican caucuses will select their leadership for the 105th Congress tomorrow. No major changes are expected.

Senate Democrats will select their leadership on Nov. 16. The House Democrats will vote on their leaders the week of Nov. 28.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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