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The Republican Revolution, Revolution of '94, or Gingrich Revolution, refers to the Republican Party (GOP) success in the 1994 U.S. midterm elections, which resulted in a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate. The day after the election, conservative Democrat Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama changed parties, becoming a Republican; on March 3, 1995, Colorado senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched to the Republican side as well, increasing the GOP senate majority.
Rather than campaigning independently in each district, Republican candidates chose to rally behind a single national program and message fronted by Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich. They alleged President Bill Clinton was not the New Democrat he claimed to be during his 1992 campaign but was a "tax and spend" liberal. The Republicans offered an alternative to Clinton's policies in the form of the Contract with America.
The gains in seats in the mid-term election resulted in the Republicans gaining control of both the House and the Senate in January 1995. Republicans had not held the majority in the House for forty years, since the 83rd Congress (elected in 1952). From 1933 to 1995, Republicans had controlled both House and Senate for only four years. From 1933 into the early 1970s, most white conservatives in the South belonged to the Democratic Party, and created the Solid South block in Congress. Most African Americans in the South were disenfranchised in those years, based on laws and subjective administration of voter registration practices.
By the mid 1990s, white conservatives from the South joined Republicans in other parts of the country, leading to the change in Congress. Large Republican gains were made in state houses as well when the GOP picked up twelve gubernatorial seats and 472 legislative seats. In so doing, it took control of 20 state legislatures from the Democrats. Prior to this, Republicans had not held the majority of governorships since 1972. In addition, this was the first time in 50 years that the GOP controlled a majority of state legislatures.
Discontent with Democratic candidates was foreshadowed by a string of elections after 1992, including Republicans winning the mayoralties of New York and Los Angeles in 1993. In that same year, Christine Todd Whitman won the New Jersey governorship. Bret Schundler became the first Republican mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, which had been held by the Democratic Party since 1917.
Republican George Allen won the 1993 Virginia Governor election and Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison won a U.S. Senate seat from the Democrats in the 1993 special election. Republicans Frank Lucas and Ron Lewis also picked up two congressional seats from Democrats in Oklahoma and Kentucky in May 1994.
When the 104th United States Congress convened in January 1995, House Republicans voted former Minority Whip Newt Gingrich—the chief author of the Contract with America—to become Speaker of the House. The new senatorial Republican majority chose Bob Dole, previously Minority Leader, as Majority Leader. Republicans pursued an ambitious agenda but were often forced to compromise with Democratic President Bill Clinton, who wielded veto power.
The 1994 election also marked the end of the conservative coalition, a bipartisan coalition of conservative Republicans and Democrats (often referred to as "boll weevil Democrats" for their association with the South). This white conservative coalition had often managed to control Congressional outcomes since the New Deal era.
Numerous Republican freshmen entered Congress. Of the 230 Republican House members of the 104th Congress, almost a third were new to the House. In the Senate, 11 of 54 (20%) Republicans were freshmen.
|Jon Kyl||Arizona||Dennis DeConcini||Retired|
|Olympia Snowe||Maine||George Mitchell||Retired|
|Spencer Abraham||Michigan||Don Riegle||Retired|
|Mike DeWine||Ohio||Howard Metzenbaum||Retired|
|Jim Inhofe||Oklahoma||David Boren||Retired*|
|Rick Santorum||Pennsylvania||Harris Wofford||Defeated|
|Fred Thompson||Tennessee||Harlan Mathews||Retired**|
|Bill Frist||Tennessee||Jim Sasser||Defeated|
(*) David Boren resigned to assume the presidency of the University of Oklahoma; Inhofe was elected to serve the remaining two years of the term.
House of Representatives
|Fob James||Alabama||Jim Folsom Jr.||Defeated|
|John Rowland||Connecticut||Lowell Weicker*||Retired|
|Phil Batt||Idaho||Cecil Andrus||Term limited|
|Bill Graves||Kansas||Joan Finney||Retired|
|Gary Johnson||New Mexico||Bruce King||Defeated|
|George Pataki||New York||Mario Cuomo||Defeated|
|Frank Keating||Oklahoma||David Walters||Retired|
|Tom Ridge||Pennsylvania||Bob Casey||Term limited|
|Lincoln Almond||Rhode Island||Bruce Sundlun||Defeated (in primary)|
|Don Sundquist||Tennessee||Ned McWherter||Term limited|
|George W. Bush||Texas||Ann Richards||Defeated|
|Jim Geringer||Wyoming||Mike Sullivan||Term limited|
(*) Lowell Weicker was a member of A Connecticut Party.
- United States elections, 1998
- United States elections, 2000
- United States elections, 2002
- United States elections, 2004
- United States elections, 2010
- United States elections, 2014
- United States elections, 2016
- Republican Revolution Fades USA Today, January 19 2003
- David Russell. "How High the Wave? Don't Just Think 1994; Think 1974, 1958, 1982 – News & Analysis – The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report". Rothenbergpoliticalreport.com. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Amer, Mildred (June 16, 2005). "Freshmen in the House of Representatives and Senate by Political Party: 1913–2005" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. The Library of Congress: 1–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
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