The results of the 2002 mid-term elections are in and dealmakers are mulling the impact of the Republicans' control of both the House and the Senate. Whether the Democratic defeat - the first time since 1934 that the president's party picked up House seats at mid-term - will affect transaction flow is being debated among deal-oriented tacticians. Certainly such mega-factors as the sour economy, the credit squeeze, and the wave of corporate scandals may override purely political factors in impacting the deals environment. But some experts say that the Republican hegemony will affect m&a during the rest of the Bush administration. "The election will make a difference. It will affect how agencies identify priorities," notes David Balto, a partner in the Washington office of law firm White & Case and a former antitrust regulator. Balto says that the removal of Sen. Ernst Hollings (D., S.C.) as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee will make a real difference in terms of media and communications mergers. Hollings is known as a force opposing the concentration of media properties in the hands of fewer companies. The FCC is in the process of reducing rules for media ownership, a process that Hollings questioned sharply during the last Congress. "Hollings might not have affected the ultimate outcome of some of the ownership debate but the FCC is now likely to proceed more quickly," says Blair Levin, a telecom and media analyst at Legg Mason. Calls to Hollings' office were not returned. Levin cautions that the Senate is overrated as an institution in matters of m&a review and antitrust issues, so the election will be unlikely to drastically affect either discipline. The Republican majority is 51 to 48, which gives them control of the committee, but not enough votes to overcome potential GOP defectors. James M. Jeffords of Vermont is the chamber's sole independent. Scott Cleland, a principal at Precursor Group, an independent research firm based in Washington, D.C., took an even stronger line than Levin, arguing that the election isn't going to change the lives of m&a practitioners. "The election does not have a large effect. Antitrust is fact-specific law enforcement, particularly in a Republican administration," he states. But Cleland points to a personnel change that, while not the result of the election, is causing uncertainty among some m&a experts and political analysts. "The bigger change is the departure of Charles James because the views of his successor are less well known," he says. James, who held the post of assistant attorney general for antitrust until stepping down earlier this year, has been replaced by R. Hewitt Pate, who becomes acting assistant attorney general overseeing antitrust. Burt Foer, executive director of the American Antitrust Institute (AAI), a non-profit group that lobbies for the enforcement of antitrust laws, believes that "there's no reason to think that Pate's approach will differ much from that of James." He adds that Pate will have the opportunity to create a record in a number of industry specific areas. "We may see some changes in policy about joint ventures in the Internet market," he says. The AAI director says that the new Justice Department antitrust chief will oversee Washington's continuing engagement with the rest of the world in further development of international antitrust policy. He adds that Pate could speed up the implementation of any reforms that grow out of this process, which is designed to simplify merger review and reduce overlapping jurisdictions.