Dems Take House, Senate Too Close to Call in Midterms

Dems Take House, Senate Too Close to Call in Midterms
Michael Hayes
WASHINGTON — With high voter turnout on the heels of a hotly contested midterm election, the U.S. electorate chiseled away at the Republican hold on the federal government, returning control of the House to the Democrats for the first time in 12 years and equalizing the balance of power in the Senate — two races remain too close to call.

But despite gains by liberals and moderates, many social conservatives in both houses of Congress who have focused their ire on adult entertainment, will return to Washington.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who is best known to adult entertainment professionals as the man who pushed HR 4472 — the law that ultimately amended and strengthened 2257 record-keeping requirements — won his reelection bid.

Pence, who defeated Democrat Barry Welsh with 60 percent of the vote, is expected to capitalize on the power vacuum left in the Republican party by challenging Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., for the minority leader job.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., handily defeated Democratic challenger Bryan Kennedy, with 62 percent of the vote.

Sensenbrenner, who has served in the House since 1978, was praised by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for his work in passing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which amended 2257. He also has been a vocal advocate of legislation that would require Internet service providers to log and retain user records.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., a champion of labeling for adult websites, defeated his Democratic opponent Jim Pederson, garnering 53 percent of the state’s votes. Kyl introduced the Stop Adults’ Facilitation of the Exploitation of Youth Act in June. The proposed legislation includes a prison sentence of up to 15 years for webmasters who fail to label their websites.

Anti-porn crusader Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, won reelection, defeating Democratic rival Christian Burridge, with 58 percent of the vote. At a July press conference held by “The War on Pornography” advocacy group, Cannon called adult entertainment “an onslaught unlike any other in the history of the world.”

Perhaps one bright spot for the adult entertainment industry was Calif. Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman’s victory over Republican Peter Hankwitz. Sherman, who joked about the economic power of the adult business in a March appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” represents the California 27th Congressional District, which includes parts of the San Fernando Valley.

In 2004, Sherman held a two-hour “town hall” meeting to discuss issues of concern to the adult entertainment industry, after actress RayVeness made a formal petition to the congressman.

Offering some early analysis on the election results as they pertain to the adult entertainment industry, Free Speech Coalition Director of Legislative Affairs Kat Sunlove told XBIZ the nonpartisan trade group was hopeful that voters had sent a clear message that they disagree with those in Washington who cater to a minority that promotes extreme religious views on sexually explicit material.

“Hopefully this will minimize the concerted attacks this industry has faced over the last six years,” Sunlove said. “The views promoted by social and religious conservatives with respect to sexually explicit material are not consistent with the views held by most Americans.”

At post time, control over the U.S. Senate remained uncertain. CNN projected that Democrat Jon Tester narrowly defeated Republican challenger Conrad Burns for Montana’s Senate seat, giving the DNC 50 votes in the Senate.

The race for Virginia’s Senate seat between Democrat Jim Webb and incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen remains too close to call. The race, which is expected to face a recount, will determine whether the Democrats are able to capture a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, or if both parties will be deadlocked.