House races

House races

Rep. Ortiz fighting for manual recount in Texas

A decision on whether or not to grant Rep. Solomon Ortiz's (D-Texas) request for a manual recount might come as early as Wednesday from state elections officials in Texas. 

The longtime incumbent has refused to concede to Republican Blake Farenthold, who leads Ortiz by 799 votes. 

On Tuesday, Ortiz officially filed a request for a manual recount, which could take a couple of weeks to complete if granted. The secretary of state's office has 48 hours to decide whether or not to grant the request, according to the AP. 

"Congressman Ortiz wants to ensure that the votes of the people of South Texas be counted accurately and that no vote be left out," a spokesman for the Democrat said Tuesday in a statement. 

Farenthold has already declared victory, and he called again on Tuesday for Ortiz to concede. 

The race is one of several congressional contests that might end up in recounts. Reps. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) are also seeking recounts in their races.  

In Kentucky, Republican Andy Barr has asked for a recanvass of votes in his loss to Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.).


Rep. Jerry McNerney triples vote lead

California Rep. Jerry McNerney has expanded his lead over Republican challenger David Harmer to 2,269 votes, according to the Democrat's campaign.

"It's clear that the momentum is in McNerney's favor and continues to grow," Doug Greven, McNerney's campaign manager, said in a statement.

McNerney led by 632 votes on Monday.

"Late results on election night broke strongly in McNerney’s favor, and that trend has continued," Greven added. "In the days since the election, McNerney’s lead has grown significantly. Now he leads by 2,269 votes."

McNerney's camp believes he is "well-positioned to stay in the lead when the remaining votes are counted."

Vote counting, which had been slowed by an influx of vote-by-mail ballots that were dropped off at the polls on Election Day, is expected to be completed by Nov. 24.


Allen West taps conservative talk radio host as chief of staff

Tea Party-backed Republican Allen West, who defeated Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) last week, has tapped a controversial Florida talk radio host to serve as his new chief of staff

Talk radio host Joyce Kaufman, who told a crowd of West supporters at a campaign event over the summer that "if ballots don't work, bullets will," announced on her show Tuesday that she has accepted the gig in D.C. 

Kaufman told listeners Tuesday, "I am just grateful that I have been asked to join in the fight." 

Kaufman was an early backer of West and proved one of his staunchest supporters over the course of the campaign, but the host has been roundly criticized over some of her past comments on illegal immigration. She also gained attention for demanding a Florida supermarket chain cease handing out calendars that marked Dec. 7 as the Islamic New Year and not Pearl Harbor Day. 

Here's what Kaufman said at a campaign event in July: "I don't care how this gets painted by the mainstream media. I don't care if this ends up on YouTube, because I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was that they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don't work, bullets will." 

During the campaign, West was a frequent guest on Kaufman's radio show.


Rep. Larsen pledges bipartisanship after narrow win

Washington state Rep. Rick Larsen (D) acknowledged he was returning to a different role in the House after securing a narrow reelection victory.

"The political landscape has changed and the new majority now has an equal responsibility to govern," Larsen said Monday night, according to his prepared remarks. "One lesson of the Democratic Party's loss is that Americans want bipartisanship. The American people want the parties to work together."

The Associated Press declared Larsen the winner of his race against Republican challenger John Koster with 50.81 percent of the vote — a margin of some 4,000 ballots.

The Democrat noted his work on a bill signed into law by former President George W. Bush.

"I have a history of bipartisanship, having worked to pass pipeline safety legislation in the minority and the Wild Sky wilderness bill while in the majority and signed into law by then-President George Bush. I look forward to finding similar opportunities next year.

"My focus will continue to be on landing the Air Force tanker to create jobs here, not somewhere else; building clean energy jobs; supporting small and medium-size manufacturers; and increasing access to credit for small businesses."


After suggesting vote fraud, Rep. Carnahan opponent concedes defeat

Republican Ed Martin, who lost a close race to Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), has finally conceded after nearly a week of questioning whether fraud played a part in his defeat last Tuesday. 

Martin initially said an investigation into Tuesday's results was warranted, citing irregularities in a number of precincts. 

Late on election night, Martin had a razor-thin lead over Carnahan, but after the final tally was in the next morning, the incumbent had a lead of close to 4,500 votes.    

"Our team of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters had reasonable reasons to be suspicious," Martin wrote in a message to supporters Monday. "While it would be irresponsible to make accusations that exceed the evidence, there was at the time ample reason to be concerned. Voicing those concerns was a difficult thing to do but I felt it was the right thing to do." 

The Republican said after learning that Carnahan's vote surge came from unreported votes "from the northwest precincts of St. Louis County," and not from precincts within the city, his worry over voter fraud dissipated.     

Martin wrote that "although I have concerns about other incidents and improper conduct on election day, I no longer believe these concerns are sufficient to continue our review of what has occurred or delay agreeing that this election is over." 

Martin said he phoned Carnahan Monday morning to officially concede. 


Illinois Republican on healthcare: 'I don't think it can be repealed'

Tea Party-backed Republican Bobby Schilling, who pulled off one of 2010's big upsets by defeating Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.), says he would like to repeal healthcare, but he doesn't see it happening. 

"If we could, I would yank that thing out by its roots," Schilling said in an interview with the Illinois Southtown Star. "Would I repeal it? Yes. Can it be repealed? I don't think it can be repealed."

It's the reality that faces the House's new Republican majority, including dozens of Republicans and Tea Party-backed candidates who ran on promises to repeal and replace the new healthcare law. 

With Democrats still in the majority in the Senate and President Obama wielding a veto pen in the White House, repealing the law in its entirety is a non-starter.  

In an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who's expected to be chairman of the House Budget Committee said the party will not be able to repeal the law until a new Republican president is in the White House. 

The man likely to be the next Speaker of the House, current Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), has already said he intends to do everything possible to "repeal this bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance."  

But at a news conference the day after Republicans took back the majority in the House, Boehner indicated a much more likely course of action was using the appropriations process to defund key aspects of the law.  

One big question for newly elected Republicans such as Schilling is just how much patience Tea Party activists will have if the GOP majority fails to make some serious progress in dismantling and defunding parts of the law. 

In the same interview, Schilling said he's already been warned by Tea Party members who backed his campaign against Hare that if they don't like what they see from him in Washington, "We will work just as hard against you as we worked for you."