The election last Tuesday was the most unusual in American history. One reason was the closeness of the presidential vote. There were several other interesting and unusual elections. They include the first time the wife of a president was elected to office. And the first time a candidate was elected to the Senate after his death.Democrats gained a few seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, the Republican Party will keep control of both houses of Congress by only a small number of seats. The Republicans and Democrats are almost equally represented. This means neither party may easily win acceptance of proposed legislation. The situation may make it difficult for the new president to pass his programs.One-hundred people serve in the United States Senate, two from each states. About one-third of them were elected on Tuesday. They will serve six-year terms. Results of several Senate elections made history. For example, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton became the only wife of a president ever to be elected to public office. She defeated Republican Representative Rick Lazio for a Senate seat from New York state.
Hillary Clinton also became the only woman ever elected to a state-wide office in New York. She will fill the Senate seat held by retiring Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Senator Moynihan strongly supported Missus Clinton to replace him.Missus Clinton campaigned hard for sixteen months in New York. She had to overcome voter opposition to the fact that she had not lived there before. Missus Clinton moved to the state after becoming interested in competing for the Senate.
Hillary Rodham grew up in Illinois. Later she attended college in Massachusetts and law school in Connecticut. She worked as a lawyer in Arkansas when her husband was governor of that state. Then she moved to Washington when her husband was elected president in Nineteen-Ninety-Two.
Bill Clinton was re-elected president in Nineteen-Ninety-Six. But Congress brought charges against him during his second term. He was accused of having sex with a young White House assistant and lying about it during a legal investigation. A Senate trial found him not guilty. But the Clinton name was damaged.
New York voters, however, accepted Missus Clinton as a hard worker for her own causes. Her supporters praise her as an activist with deep sympathy for the poor. She campaigned for improvements in health care, child care, and the economy of some areas in the state. She also proposed improvements in education.
((MUSIC BRIDGE))In the state of Missouri, Democrat Mel Carnahan was competing for a Senate seat when he was killed in a plane crash last month. It was too late to remove his name from the ballot. And it was too late for Democrats to nominate another candidate. The governor of Missouri said he would name Mr. Carnahan's wife, Jean, to serve part of the term if her husband was elected. Mr. Carnahan defeated his Republican opponent, Senator John Ashcroft. This is the first time that a candidate was elected to the Senate after his death.The money that candidates spend to be elected has been an issue in the United States for several years. On Tuesday, Democrat Jon Corzine won a seat in the Senate from New Jersey. In the process he set a record for spending money in a state-wide campaign. He reportedly spent about sixty-million dollars of his own money on his campaign. This is about two times the amount spent by a candidate for the Senate from California a few years ago. Jon Corzine is the former chairman of a major investment company. He defeated Republican Congressman Bob Franks.Democrats lost a Senate seat in Virginia that they badly wanted to keep. Former Governor George Allen defeated Democratic Senator Charles Robb. Charles Robb is the husband of Lynda Byrd Johnson Robb. Missus Robb is the daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Senator Robb was also a former Virginia governor. He is the last Democrat to hold state-wide office in Virginia.
((MUSIC BRIDGE))Voters in eleven of the fifty states elected governors. There are now twenty-nine Republican governors, Nineteen Democrats and two Independents. Delaware and Montana elected female governors for the first time. Voters in Delaware elected Ruth Ann Minner. She had served as the assistant governor. The new governor of Montana is Judy Martz, a Republican. She is a former Olympic speed skater. There are now five female governors, more than ever before.
((MUSIC BRIDGE))Americans also voted directly on a number of issues. More than two-hundred issues appeared on the ballots in forty-two states. They involved some of the most difficult social issues facing the nation. They included proposals about the rights of homosexuals -- people who love people of the same sex. Other proposals involved help by doctors to end the lives of dying patients. Still other proposals concerned issues about drug policy, gun control and education.Voters in Michigan and California defeated measures to provide financial aid called vouchers for students. This aid would permit public school students to attend a private school.
The plan rejected in California would have provided every child with four-thousand dollars for private school. The measure proposed aid for both rich and poor children. The program in Michigan would have helped only children from areas where public schools are failing.Voters in Arizona and Colorado defeated measures to limit population growth. The measures would have affected larger communities and other governing areas. They would have been required to limit the development of new homes for ten years. The measures also would have forced developers to pay for services for new areas.Colorado and Oregon voters approved measures to control guns. Voters there approved new requirements for buyers at gun shows. Their records now will be studied before they are permitted to buy a gun at such shows. High school students armed with guns had carried out deadly attacks in both Colorado and Oregon in the past two years.Voters in Nevada and Nebraska approved measures that would ban civil marriages between people of the same sex. Earlier this year, Vermont citizens voted to permit such marriages.
In Maine, voters rejected a proposal aimed at ending unfair treatment of homosexuals. Voters in the state also rejected a proposal to permit doctors to help dying patients end their lives. The proposal was similar to a law already enacted in Oregon.California voters approved a change in laws affecting people who use illegal drugs. Under the new measure, nonviolent drug offenders will not be jailed. Instead, they will live under conditions of limited freedom. They also will receive treatment to end their dependence on the illegal drugs.
Voters in Colorado and Nevada approved measures to legalize the drug marijuana for medical purposes. There are now eight states with such laws.In Alabama, voters ended a ninety-nine-year old ban on marriage between people of different races. It was the last state in the nation to have this ban in its constitution.
And one of the most unusual proposals in a very unusual election was on the ballot in Utah. Voters there declared English to be the official language of the state.
This program was written by Jerilyn Watson and Shelley Gollust. It was produced by George Grow. I'm Sarah Long.And I'm Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.