WASHINGTON (AP) – Republicans renewed their grip on the Senate Tuesday night and reached out for more, capturing Democratic seats across the south.

Democratic leader Tom Daschle faced a strong challenge in South Dakota.

Republican victories for Democratic-held seats in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia assured the GOP of at least 50 seats in the Senate that convenes on Jan. 3.

Under complicated rules in effect, that assured Republicans of control regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.

A victory by President Bush would give Vice President Dick Cheney the ability to break ties.

A victory by Sen. John Kerry would force him to resign his seat in Congress, and give the GOP a 50-49 advantage until his successor was elected in late spring or summer.

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