The chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee was one of scores of Democratic causalities on an election day that saw Republicans seize control of the U.S. House and make deep inroads into command of the Senate.
The change in power in the House of Representatives also will mean that Republican Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma will be in line to be chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, replacing current chairman Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn.
The election alters the playing field and the players for the 2012 farm bill and will make progress difficult for ambitious legislation such as immigration reform, Washington insiders said.
âIt looks like a divided Congress which translates into legislative gridlock for the next couple of years,â Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said in a post on the groupâs election blog, Fresh Decision 2010,
The Senate Agriculture Committee will have new leadership after current chairwoman Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas lost by 58% to 37% to Republican John Boozman, CBS News reported Nov. 3.
Guenther said in the blog that possible Democrat successors to Lincoln include Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Guenther said Stabenow has been a champion of the produce industry for many years and spoke at the 2009 Washington Public Policy Conference.
Republicans gained at least 58 seats in the House of Representatives to seize control of that chamber, and cut the Democratic majority in the Senate by six.
CBS reported Nov. 3 that Democrats held a 51-46 majority in the Senate with several races yet to be called.
In the House of Representatives, Republicans flipped control of the House by gaining 58 seats. In the current Congress, Democrats held a 256-179 edge, but Republicans are projected to win 235 seats in Nov. 2 voting and Democrats 181 with several races too close to call.
Florida lost an industry advocate with the defeat of Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd by Republican Steve Southerland, Guenther said.
âThis is a big loss for Florida as he has been a stalwart supporter of agriculture and the produce industry since he was first elected to Congress in 1996,â Guenther said in the blog.
Boyd has served on both the House Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Appropriation Committee.
In Coloradoâs third district, industry ally Democratic Rep. John Salazar lost to Republican Scott Tipton by a 51% to 46% margin.
Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., was engaged in a tough reelection battle that was too close to call the morning of Nov. 3.
On the other hand, Guenther said United Fresh looked forward to working with Republican Senator-elect Rob Portman of Ohio, who was former U.S. Trade Ambassador and Office of Management and Budget Director under President George W. Bush.