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Republicans one win away from House majority

The Washington Post reports projected GOP victories in 217 districts, just short of the 218 the party needs to retake control

As of Nov. 17, Democrats held enough Senate seats to retain their majority while Republicans claimed the House. Here’s why it took so long. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Republicans were on the cusp of winning back the House majority Tuesday night after victories in several competitive races pushed them to 217 seats — just one shy of the total needed to clinch control.

The Washington Post reported projected Republican victories on Monday and Tuesday for Rep. David Schweikert in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District; Juan Ciscomani in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District; Brandon Williams in New York’s 22nd Congressional District; Lori Chavez-DeRemer in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District; and Reps. Ken Calvert and Michelle Steel in California’s 41st and 45th Congressional Districts, respectively.

McCarthy seeks to corral votes for speaker as GOP nears House control

The Post has not reported a projected House majority for either party, but the individual outcomes edged the GOP closer to the 218 seats it needs to retake control in a legislative body of 435 members.

GOP leaders are expecting a much narrower majority than they once predicted in a midterm year marked by high inflation and low approval ratings for President Biden. And Democrats held control of the Senate and could even expand their majority in the upper chamber, depending on the results of a runoff in Georgia next month. The underwhelming GOP performance has left Republicans in both chambers battling over who is to blame and who should lead the party forward.

Democrats have secured 209 seats so far, after The Post reported on Tuesday that Yadira Caraveo was projected to win in Colorado’s competitive 8th Congressional District, while a trio of Democratic incumbents prevailed in California.

Vote-counting continued one week after Election Day in a midterm year that has bucked convention. History shows that the president’s party tends to suffer significant losses in midterm elections. But Democrats have held their own this year, prevailing in many tight races and sometimes benefiting from far-right GOP nominees.

In Washington state, for instance, Republican candidate Joe Kent fell to Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez in a red-leaning district after beating Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) — who voted to impeach Donald Trump — in the primary.

Republican leaders anticipate a final tally of 220 to 223 seats, a House majority and an increase from the 211 they held in January 2021 but significantly lower than estimates that they would win over two dozen, according to numerous House GOP campaign strategists.

While many vulnerable Democratic incumbents were able to hold on and some of the party’s candidates flipped districts this cycle, new projections on Monday and Tuesday significantly narrowed Democrats’ chances of retaining a razor-thin majority.

The latest blow came in California’s 41st Congressional District, where Calvert was projected to beat Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor.

Calvert, who has served in Congress since 1993, was among the more than 100 Republican House members who objected to certifying the 2020 election results — something Rollins sought to highlight. Rollins was involved in prosecuting members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, egged on by the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

On Tuesday, House Republicans moved ahead with their leadership elections, despite some GOP calls to postpone the vote. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) won his party’s nomination for speaker with 188 votes cast via secret ballot, many more than the simple majority needed. But 31 lawmakers did not vote for McCarthy — suggesting that he may need to make concessions to unhappy members of his caucus to win the 218 votes he will need to clinch the speakership in January.

Disappointing midterm results have set off finger-pointing in both chambers and intensified long-simmering feuds. Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) — the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — signaled Tuesday that he will challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) for minority leader in the chamber and argued that party leadership has not done enough to lay out its plan for voters.

“I want to repeat again: I have the votes,” McConnell responded Tuesday, vowing: “I will be elected. The only issue is whether we do it sooner or later.”

A slim majority could empower the far-right members of the GOP caucus to make demands of leadership, posing a difficult dynamic for McCarthy, who worked during the campaign to try to build a governing coalition.

The projected wins for Ciscomani, Chavez-DeRemer and Steel are victories for McCarthy and others’ efforts to boost the diversity of a largely White GOP caucus.

Ciscomani was a star recruit by McCarthy in a district where the House GOP campaign arm invested heavily. A longtime adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Ciscomani is Hispanic and talks about his working-class background as a “first-generation American.”

Chavez-DeRemer will be one of Oregon’s first Hispanic representatives in Congress, alongside Democrat Andrea Salinas. Steel in 2021 became one of the first Korean American women in the House and won reelection in a diverse district where Republicans say her candidacy has been key to inroads with Asian American voters.

Scott Clement, Amy B Wang, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.