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First Muslim congressman elected

Keith Ellison, a Democrat, has become the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress by winning a Minnesota seat in the House of Representatives. He overcame personal attacks emphasising his past association with Louis Farrakhan, leader of the radical Nation of Islam group. The 43-year-old lawyer sought to downplay his religion and ran on a populist platform. He has called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. On the campaign trail, he also urged a greater reliance on renewable fuels and the establishment of a government-funded universal healthcare system. But another Democrat, Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, failed in her attempt to win an Illinois House seat despite a high-profile campaign. The former helicopter pilot, who lost both legs after being shot down in Iraq, lost to Peter Roskam in a Republican stronghold.

Lieberman triumph

In the Senate races, Hillary Clinton - a former first lady and leading contender for the Democratic nomination in next year's presidential poll - easily won re-election in New York. And former Democratic heavyweight Joe Lieberman - candidate for vice-president in Al Gore's failed bid for the presidency in 2000 - beat an official party candidate to reclaim his Connecticut seat in the Senate as an independent. Mr Lieberman, who lost the party primary earlier this year as a result of his support for the Iraq war and perceived closeness to President Bush, was backed by the Republicans, who urged their supporters to give him their votes.

Mr Lieberman will be one of two independents in the new Senate who have said they will align themselves with Democrats. The other, socialist Bernie Sanders, who served eight terms in the House of Representatives, won the Vermont seat of retiring Senator Jim Jeffords, also an independent. But an attempt by another House member to win a Senate seat foundered. Republican Katherine Harris was heavily defeated by incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson in Florida. Ms Harris came to national attention in 2000 when, as Florida secretary of state, she certified Mr Bush as winning the bitterly contested state of Florida in his presidential race with Mr Gore.

Schwarzenegger's second term

In West Virginia, Democrat Robert Byrd's victory made him the Senate's longest serving member. The 88-year-old won a record ninth six-year term. In the gubernatorial contests, Democrat Deval Patrick won in Massachusetts to become the first black governor of the state, and only the second elected black governor of any state. In California, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won a second and final term. The former Hollywood action movie star easily defeated a challenge to his governorship from Democrat Phil Angelides.

Source: BBC
Tags: Election Exit Polls politics

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