1990 Midterm Elections

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In the midterm elections of 1990, the Democratic Party gained 7-seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one-seat in the U.S. Senate from the Republican Party, slightly increasing its already sizable majority.

The campaign was dominated by crisis in Kuwait, a looming economic recession, and President George H.W. Bush's declining approval ratings. The results indicated an anti-incumbent mood, with six Democrats and nine Republicans in the House defeated for reelection. Minority Whip Newt Gingrich was barely reelected with 50% of the vote in his Georgia district. Notable freshmen included future Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Gary Franks of Connecticut, the first black Republican elected to the U.S. House since 1932.

Political science professor Paul Wellstone pulled a major upset by defeating well funded Republican Senator Rudy Boschwitz in Minnesota. Conservative Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina was narrowly reelected with 52% of the vote, after airing a controversial advertisement on racial quotas that featured a white man's hands ripping up a rejection letter from an employer. In New Jersey, Democratic Senator Bill Bradley faced a surprisingly close race against Republican Christine Todd Whitman, which helped propel her to being elected governor in 1993.

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