Republicans are fighting to break the Democrats’ grip on Congress

0

WASHINGTON (AP) — On the promise of a retreating red wave, Republicans fought from state to state in a determined battle to break one-party Democrat rule in Washington as concerns over the protracted race for control of Congress and the Future set the agenda of President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday, the Democrats’ fragile position of power in the House of Representatives and Senate remained at risk. The party faced a new generation of Republican candidates — including political newcomers, including 2020 election deniers and some Donald Trump-inspired extremists, who easily won a few seats.

But the races remained close and Republicans faced stiff competition as they marched across the country, daunting hopes for promised wide-ranging gains, particularly in the House of Representatives. Instead, they approached another tightly divided Congress.

“The RED WAVE did not happen,” defeated Republican Rep. Mayra Flores of Texas said in a tweet.

It was the first major national election since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, and emotions ran wild. The recent violent attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband has left many stunned, and federal law enforcement officials across the country have warned of increased threats. Biden’s party worked to hold out on the tightest of margins.

Even with a narrow majority, Republicans could inject new intensity into Capitol Hill by promising to end Biden’s most ambitious plans, tightening congressional oversight and launching a grueling investigation — possibly even impeaching the president.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who is set to become speaker if his party takes control, vowed to win the majority as he addressed a crowd of supporters well after midnight in Washington.

“We’re expanding this party,” McCarthy said, evoking the races won so far. “The American people are ready for a majority proposing a new direction that will put America back on track.”

But sentiment among Republicans was tense as Democrats delivered a surprise run of the map in places Republicans expected would claim their own.

“While many races remain too close to announce, it is clear that House Democrat members and candidates are significantly exceeding expectations,” Pelosi said in a statement. “As states continue to tabulate final results, each vote must be counted as cast.”

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate would be decided. If Republican newcomers help the party take control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate, the outcome will pose new challenges to Congress’ ability to govern — especially when margins are tight.

In the race for the house, the Virginia battlefield provided a snapshot. Republican Senator Jen Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot, defeated Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander who touted her work on the House Committee investigating the January 6 riot.

But elsewhere, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger prevailed over Trump-backed Yesli Vega in a Virginia suburb that Republicans hoped to turn around. And Democrats held House seats in Rhode Island, Ohio, Kansas and New Hampshire that Republicans wanted, and they flipped some, including a suburban Illinois district, from Republicans.

Still, Republicans slowly rallied some of the five seats needed to attain a 218-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

They snagged a long-held Democrat-held seat in the Nashville, Tennessee area. And in a dramatic example of the difficult political environment for Democrats, the party’s House Campaign Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney fought for political survival against Republican lawmaker Mike Lawler in New York’s Hudson Valley. He would be the first Democratic campaign chief to suffer defeat in two decades.

The Senate races remained in flux. Republican JD Vance, a venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” defeated Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio and denied the Democrats a chance to take the open seat. In New Hampshire, Trump-styled Republican Don Bolduc failed to oust Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan.

In the evenly divided Senate, the battlefield centered on the hard-fought states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin. In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman overturned a Republican-controlled Senate seat that is key to the party’s hopes of retaining control of the chamber. The 50-50 Senate is now in Democratic hands because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a decisive vote.

Divided governments have historically offered the opportunity to reach bipartisan agreements. But Republican candidates instead fought on a platform to stop Democrats.

“I think this will end up being a conflict-ridden administration,” said Brendan Buck, a former top adviser to the last two Republican House speakers.

Without a unified agenda of their own, Republicans threatened confrontations that could trigger crises. They pledged to cut federal spending, refused to raise the country’s debt limit and were reluctant to support Ukraine in its war with Russia. Everything pointed to a possible traffic accident.

“You’re going to make it very clear that there’s a new sheriff in town,” Buck said.

McCarthy had recruited the most racially diverse class of House GOP candidates, with more women than ever before. But it also included a new cadre of Trump loyalists, including election skeptics and deniers, some of whom were in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Trump endorsed hundreds of candidates nationwide this election cycle, though they weren’t always the first picks of McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. In an interview, the former president said he supports McCarthy as a speaker and derided his old enemy McConnell as a “lousy leader,” according to Fox News Channel.

In a sign of the nation’s toxic political climate, Pelosi canceled most public appearances during the final week of the campaign after an intruder broke into her family’s San Francisco home in the middle of the night and demanded, “Where’s Nancy?” and hit her 82-year-old husband in the head with a hammer. Authorities said the Oct. 28 attack targeted the Speaker’s home.

The election was passed amid deep dissatisfaction. A majority of Americans, about 7 in 10, disapprove of the way Congress does its job, according to AP VoteCast, a comprehensive poll of more than 90,000 voters nationally. About 4 out of 10 strongly disagree.

The House of Representatives elected several new Republicans in newly chartered Florida districts. They are joined by 25-year-old Democrat Maxwell Frost, the first member of Generation Z to win a seat in Congress.

Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a top Trump ally, won re-election in Georgia.

The incumbents also held firm. In Ohio, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated JR Majewski, a Republican who was in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, was re-elected in New York. Republican Sens. Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida prevailed over their Democratic opponents. In Colorado, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was also reelected.

Vote counts could extend beyond Election Day in many states, and Georgia could go into the runoff on December 6 if no candidate achieves a majority.

Democrats gained momentum on the abortion issue after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision this summer, and they have warned voters about MAGA conservatives, short for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

But Republicans focused voters’ attention on nearer issues like inflation-driven high prices and crime.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.

Share.

Comments are closed.