GOP headed to keeping House control
Republicans were on track to secure two more years of House control Tuesday, as GOP lawmakers triumphed in districts in Florida and Virginia that Democrats had hoped Donald Trump’s divisive comments would make their own.
Democrats defeated two Florida GOP incumbents, but their prospects for putting a big dent in House Republicans’ historic majority seemed in question in early results. Republicans grabbed one Democratic-held district north of Miami, kept another in Indiana that Democrats hoped would signal a political wave in their direction, and were leading in crucial races in Illinois and Michigan.
With the GOP presidential candidate rousing opposition in many suburban and ethnically diverse districts, Democrats were hoping to gain Republican-held seats in New Jersey, Nevada and California. But they seemed all but certain to fall short of the 30-seat addition they needed to take command of the House for the first time in six years. Democrats have gained that many seats in just five of the 35 elections since World War II.
In Florida, freshman GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo won a race that showed Trump’s damage to Republicans would be more limited than Democrats hoped. With around 7 in 10 of the Miami-area district’s voters Hispanic, the race became one of the country’s most expensive with a price tag exceeding $18 million, but Curbelo held on.
Virginia freshman Rep. Barbara Comstock did the same, keeping her seat in the suburbs of Washington despite Democrats’ relentless attempts to tie her to Trump. The two sides spent more than $20 million on that contest in a district of highly educated, affluent voters that both sides had viewed as vulnerable to a Democratic takeover.
“This could be a really good night for America,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who won a 10th term, told supporters in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin.
While Trump hurt Republicans in some areas, his appeal to workingclass white voters and their antipathy to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival for president, was helping GOP candidates in others. That could help Republicans limit an erosion of their majority in the chamber that could leave hard-line conservatives with added clout to vex party leaders.
Florida, where court-ordered redistricting created a bunch of competitive races, was also the site of Election Day’s first two defeated incumbents, including 12-term veteran Rep. John Mica, 73, in the Orlando area. Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, once the state’s Republican governor, defeated another GOP lawmaker in St Petersburg.
The GOP’s current 247-188 majority, which includes three vacancies, is a high-water mark for House Republicans since the 270 members they had in 1931.
A security guard stands on the steps of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Washington on Monday.