House defense leaders cruise to reelection

Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) was on track to score a sizeable victory over Democratic challenger Lee Rogers for the 25th congressional district. 

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With votes still rolling in from polling stations in the state, McKeon was well ahead of Rogers around 2 a.m. EST, locking up over 60 percent of the vote to Rogers' 38 percent with 2 percent of the district reporting. 

Ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.) is predicted to cruise to another term in the House, beating out GOP hopeful Jim Postma 71 percent to 28 in the state's 9th district, with over half of the precincts reporting. 

Both wins virtually guarantee continuity among the House defense panel's top leaders. But a handful of races Tuesday night also guarantees some major shakeups within the committee's subpanels. 

Ten-term Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) lost in a landslide to Democratic challenger John Delaney, with the longtime Republican only able to attract 37 percent of the vote. 

Bartlett's loss not only ends one of the longest careers in the House but also opens the door for defense lawmakers to take his spot as the head of the committee's Tactical Air and Land subpanel. 

The subpanel's ranking member slot is also open after Rep. Silvestre Reyes's (D-Texas) primary loss to Democratic challenger Beto Reyes earlier this year.

The leadership spot for the panel's seapower subcommittee is also now up for grabs after former Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) failed bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). 

Despite this shakeup, congressional sources and defense observers told The Hill in October the committee would retain its well-earned reputation as one of the most pragmatic panels in the House. 

That reputation will be ensured, due in no small part to McKeon and Smith's election victories Tuesday night.

McKeon and Smith have a good relationship on the committee, according to sources close to both lawmakers. They acknowledge there have been some sharp disagreements over sequestration this year and that the two don’t buck their own party leadership as much as previous committee heads might have.