House GOP holds onto seats in Ohio and Va. specials

House Republicans retained their seats in a pair of Republican-leaning districts Tuesday, thwarting a potential special election upset in Ohio and coasting to victory in Virginia.
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State Rep. Bob Latta (R) held off a challenge in Ohio’s 5th district, defeating Democrat Robin Weirauch 57-43 with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

State Del. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanRepublicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel The Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Overnight Defense: Top general briefs GOP senators on Syria plan | Senators 'encouraged' by briefing | Pence huddles with Republican allies on Syria | Trump nominee sidesteps questions on arms treaties MORE (R) won a less contentious race in Virginia’s 1st district, 61-37 according to full results posted by the state board of elections.

Latta’s victory came in a race that saw both national party committees spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. Weirauch outperformed her 2004 showing against the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) but was unable to build on her 2006 loss, which was by nearly the same margin as Tuesday’s.

Latta’s father, Del Latta (R), held the seat prior to Gillmor, who died in September.

“I look forward to getting to work immediately to be an advocate for the people of the 5th district,” Bob Latta said. “I commend Robin Weirauch for a spirited campaign, and I look forward to working with all constituents, regardless of party, to accomplish great things for our district, our state, and our country.”

Republicans pointed to Weirauch’s support from the national party and liberal interest groups, including EMILY’s List, and hailed the victory as a sign that their massive 2006 losses will not be repeated in the coming elections.

“This campaign became a cause célèbre for national Democrats and liberal activists nationwide, but in the end, Bob’s anti-illegal immigration, anti-tax hike message won the day,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern offered a different read, saying the race did not turn out to be the cakewalk it should have been in a district that went 61 percent for President Bush and where Gillmor defeated Weirauch by about a two-to-one margin in 2004.

“Make no make mistake, this election shows that in November 2008, voters in Ohio and across the country will choose strong Democrats who will undo the damage of the Bush-Cheney years,” Redfern said.

Wittman defeated Iraq war veteran Philip Forgit and will succeed Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R), who died in October.