November 15th, 2010
08:40 AM ET
12 years ago

Two new lawmakers join Congress Monday

Washington (CNN) - While the vast majority of newly elected congressional lawmakers don't take office until early January, two actually get sworn in Monday.

Less than two weeks since their victories in the midterm elections, Delaware's Chris Coons and West Virginia's Joe Manchin, both Democrats, will become the newest members of the Senate, when Vice President Joe Biden swears them Monday afternoon.

Manchin, West Virginia's popular two-term governor, won a special election to fill the final two years of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who held the seat since 1959. Manchin, who defeated Republican Senate nominee John Raese, is considered a conservative Democrat. He was backed by the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce in his bid for the Senate.

In July, following Byrd's death, Manchin named attorney and political confidante Carte Goodwin to temporarily fill the seat.

Coons, Delaware's New Castle county executive, will be filling out the final four years of Biden's old term in the Senate. Biden, who served in the Senate for nearly four decades, stepped down from his seat after his election in November 2008 as vice president. Former Biden aide Ted Kaufman was named as an interim replacement, and did not seek a full term.

Coons easily defeated conservative commentator Christine O'Donnell in a special election that grabbed national headlines thanks to many of O'Donnell's past controversial comments. O'Donnell, who was backed by Tea Party activists and Sarah Palin, upset longtime moderate Republican Rep. Mike Castle, a former two-term governor, in the GOP primary.

The swearing in of both Coons and Manchin does not change the balance of power in the Senate, which currently stands at 59 (57 Democrats plus two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats) Democrats to 41 Republicans. The Democrats will have a smaller 53 to 47 majority starting next year.

Two other special elections for the Senate were held on Election Day. In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet won a full six year term. He was appointed to the seat early last year, after Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar stepped down to become Interior Secretary in President Obama's administration.

And Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois won a special election to fill the final weeks of Obama's old term in the Senate, as well as a full six year term in office. Kirk will succeed Sen. Roland Burris, a Democrat who was named early last year to the Senate by then embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was subsequently ousted from office.

Kirk will be sworn in later this month.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2010 • Congress
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. T'sah from Virginia

    Well we will see how much of a DEMOCRAT they are!!! We already have an INSIDE SHOT of what Manchin is about!!!

    T'sah is N2 Moving America Forward with our Leader, President Obama!!!

    November 15, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. James

    Just what is that going to do?? More finger pointing and lies!!! These Senators need to be removed all of them Democratic and Republican. Its a big circus with clowns, magic tricks and jokes.The clowns love to be in the spot-light so everyone can see them, the magic trick is making the tax- payers dollar disappear and the joke is on us for electing them. Its time this counrty puts aside the age old problem of DEMOCRAT or REPUBLICAN and think about the PEOPLE. Wake up people these politicians don't care about us, they don't care about the state this counrty is in they just want to keep their jobs. The job we have given to them, they are supposed to be our voice but somewhere somehow that has been lost in the greed and coruption of this great country. I was once a avid voter( Democratic) but I then realized that no matter who is elected the people of this counrty will suffer. And the biggest joke as of late the TEA PARTY who have no idea what they are doing.More suffering of the people.

    November 15, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. keepstufingthis

    I have great hopes for Manchin, Coons is just a regular democrat liberal part apparatchik, beholden to the corrupt unions and the lying, corrupt, incompetent, inept, union toady president that the SEIU stole the last election for. As such he will also be a toady for Harry Reid who SEIU also stole an election for. Perhaps the new congress will investigate the SEIU under the RICO Act.

    November 15, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Time for Manchin to put up or shut up about just how "conservative" he truly is. He'll either be quickly labeled a DINO by the leftists in the DEMOcRAT Party or be a rubber stamper for the DEMOcRAT liberal agenda. Everybodys watching VERY CLOSELY JOE!

    November 15, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |