Update on Undecided House Races
Official Washington is already making preparations for a Democratic-controlled House (and likely a Democratic Senate), but there are still a number of House races that remain undecided.
Democrats are sure to pick up at least 28 seats, but that number could rise as high as 30 -- or more -- depending on the outcomes of several VERY tight contests. Two -- in Texas's 23rd District and Louisiana's 2nd -- are headed for December runoffs. The lone outstanding Senate race -- in Virginia -- looks likely to come to closure today at 3 p.m. ET when Sen. George Allen (R) has scheduled a press conference, apparently to concede defeat.
Let's take a look at the remaining undecideds.
* Connecticut's 2nd District: Former state Rep. Joe Courtney (D) leads Rep. Rob Simmons (R) by just 167 votes but has declared victory in the race. The narrowness of the margin, however, will trigger an automatic recount that must be completed by next Wednesday at midnight. Simmons has been a target since he beat Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D) in 2000 in an otherwise reliably Democratic district (John Kerry won 54 percent of the vote here in 2004). Should the result stand, Simmons would join Connecticut's Nancy Johnson (R) on the political sidelines. Another major Democratic target in Connecticut -- Rep. Chris Shays (R) -- won his race.
* Georgia's 12th District: With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Rep. John Barrow (D) has 71,500 to 70,461 for former Rep. Max Burns (R) -- a margin of 859 votes. The final margin will almost certainly be less than one percent of total votes cast in the race, giving Burns the option of asking for a recount. Barrow has declared victory.
* Florida's 13th District: The Associated Press has declared auto dealer Vern Buchanan (R) the winner in this open-seat contest to replace Rep. Katherine Harris (R). But Buchanan leads banker Christine Jennings (D) by just 386 votes and a recount is already underway in the district -- as mandated by Florida law when two candidates are separated by less than a half percent. That first recount is expected to be concluded within ten days. If the first recount shows Buchanan and Jennings separated by less than a quarter percent (entirely possible given the 386-vote margin currently), an automatic hand recount would be triggered.
* North Carolina's 8th District: In a surprisingly close contest, Rep. Robin Hayes (R) holds just a 450-vote margin over Democrat Larry Kissell. More than 900 provisional ballots remain outstanding, and it is not immediately clear how many of those will be ruled eligible or whether they will have any effect on the outcome of the election. Provisional ballots won't be counted until Nov. 17, and no official result will come before Nov. 28. At that point, the trailing candidate could request a recount assuming the margin between the candidates is less than one percent.
* New Mexico's 1st District: It didn't take a political genius to see that this race between Rep. Heather Wilson (R) and state Attorney General Patricia Madrid was going to be this close. With 462 out of 465 precincts reporting, Wilson leads 102,376 to 100,981. According to the Albuquerque Journal, there are roughly 4,600 paper ballots still being counted. When those are tabulated, election officials will move on to provisional ballots, which number nearly 4,000.
* Ohio's 2nd District: Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) is ahead of Victoria Wulsin (D) by 2,323 votes in this strongly Republican district, which includes suburban Cincinnati. Several thousand provisional ballots remain and Wulsin has not conceded. Schmidt has declared victory. The Cincinnati Enquirer says that if Schmidt's current margin holds it will be slightly larger than one percent -- meaning that Wulsin could not request a recount.
* Ohio's 15th District: Once written off as a likely loser, Rep. Deborah Pryce (R) appears to have come back to defeat Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) by 2,800 votes. Roughly 20,000 absentee and provisional ballots have not been counted, and Kilroy has not yet conceded the race. "This race is still on," Kilroy told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's not decided yet." If Pryce comes back to Congress, she has announced she will not seek reelection to her post as chair of the House GOP Conference.
* Washington's 8th District: Washington's vote-counting process remains the slowest in the country for a second consecutive cycle. Thousands of voters cast "permanent absentee ballots" (a.k.a. vote by mail), and any vote postmarked by Nov. 7 is counted. That means that some votes cast in this race between Rep. Dave Reichert (R) and Darcy Burner (D) haven't even been received yet -- much less counted. With 59 percent of precincts reporting, Reichert has 77,597 votes to Burner's 74,861 -- a lead of 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent margin. This may well be the final House race in the country to be decided.
* Wyoming's At-Large District: Just 970 votes separate Rep. Barbara Cubin (R) and Democrat Garry Trauner (D). Under Wyoming law, an automatic recount would be triggered if the margin was 932 votes or smaller. Trauner is expected to decide whether to request a statewide recount today. Trauner has until Nov. 17 to request the recount but would have to pay for it himself, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
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