Parties dispatch staff, money in battle for last 10 House seats

Democrats are scrambling to limit the damage of last Tuesday's elections by ensuring their party doesn’t lose any of the contests yet to be decided.

With recounts pending in several states, party operatives have been dispatched in order to help monitor the process. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has sent staffers to California, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington state where there are 10 races that have yet to be called by The Associated Press or are poised for a recount.

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“We have teams on the ground to help ensure all votes are counted,” said Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the DCCC.

The Republicans are also looking to influence the outcome of these closely fought contests.

“Between sending staff on the ground and actively raising money for recount funds, we are doing everything to ensure that every eligible vote is counted and the integrity of the process is maintained,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In California, the parties could be wrangling into December over the outcome of the 11th and 20th district races.

Reps. Jerry McNerney (D) and Jim Costa (D) are both within 1 percent of their challengers. McNerney holds a 548-vote lead over GOP challenger David Harmer and Costa trails Republican Andy Vidak by 648 votes.

Vote counting is ongoing, with the final result expected before Thanksgiving. The losing candidate then has five calendar days to request a recount. There are no automatic recounts in California.

DCCC staffers are also standing by in Washington state, where The Associated Press has yet to call the race for Rep. Rick Larsen (D). He’s leading Republican challenger John Koster by 3,841 votes in the latest count, and Democrats are hopeful he’ll be declared the winner Monday night. 

The Democrat also holds a lead in Kentucky’s outstanding House race.

Rep. Ben Chandler (D) has a 649-vote edge over Republican Andy Barr, although that race has yet to be called and Barr may request a recount.

The race in Illinois’s 8th district also remains too close to call. As of Friday, Rep. Melissa Bean (D) trails Republican Joe Walsh by 349 votes. Counting of provisional and absentee ballots was suspended during the weekend but is expected to resume this week and to be completed later this month.

Democrats are also waiting to see whether Republican Keith Fimian will seek a recount in his second bid to unseat Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). Connolly is currently ahead by about 1,000 votes, and Fimian is expected to announce by noon Tuesday whether he wants a recount, according to NBC 4.

Meanwhile, in New York, absentee and provisional ballots could decide the fate of two Democratic incumbents. In the 25th district, Rep. Dan Maffei (D) trails Republican Ann Marie Buerkle by 684 votes. A recanvassing is underway, and officials say it could be two weeks before a winner is decided.

Meanwhile, New York Rep. Tim Bishop (D) wants a hand recount in his race against Republican Randy Altschuler after his Election Day lead evaporated.

Bishop was ahead by a 3,461-vote margin last Tuesday, which caused The Associated Press to call the election for him. But recanvassing of the voting machines flipped the results to a 383-vote lead for Altschuler.

Bishop’s camp has asked the Suffolk County Board of Elections for a hand recount and, should the board reject their request, a spokesman for Bishop said he would mount a legal challenge.

“We all know that the only way to ensure every vote that was cast is counted is to do a hand count,” said Jon Schneider, a spokesman for Bishop.

In an e-mail to supporters on Saturday, Bishop noted there were still 10,600 absentee and affidavit ballots that haven't been counted. He asked for donations to help with a "lengthy and costly" recount.

"Suffolk County residents insisted on having a paper backup in the new machines to document every vote, and these circumstances demand we recount them all," Bishop said in the e-mail.

There is almost certainly going to be a recount in Rep. Bob Etheridge’s (D-N.C.) race. Republican Renee Ellmers leads Etheridge by 1,646 votes, according to unofficial results. As long as Ellmers’s lead doesn’t exceed 1 percent of the vote or about 1,800 ballots, Etheridge can call for a recount.

“If we’re within the 1 percent [margin], then yes, he will call for a recount,” said Mike Davis, a spokesman for the congressman’s campaign. “We expect to know that, hopefully, Friday.”

And in Texas, Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D) wants a recount in his race against Republican challenger Blake Farenthold. The Democrat trails by 792 votes in that contest.

Meanwhile, late Friday, the AP declared Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) the winner of her reelection race. Her Republican challenger, Jesse Kelly, conceded in a statement.

“The voters of Southern Arizona have spoken and I respect their decision,” Kelly said.

--Updated at 6:09 p.m. and 8:58 a.m. and 4:32 p.m. on Nov. 9