As the lame duck, post-election Congress returned to work on Tuesday, the 2018 election gains of Democrats continued to grow, with news organizations declaring a fourth GOP seat for Democrats in California, as other vote numbers indicated that Republicans could lose two more seats in what was once the hotbed of national GOP conservatism, Orange County.
The latest GOP lawmaker to go down to defeat was Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), a more moderate conservative who had tried but failed to broker a GOP agreement on immigration, as his slim lead from Election Day was swamped by a tide of mail-in ballots being counted across California.
“I want to thank the unprecedented grassroots effort that supported this campaign,” said Josh Harder, who will replace Denham in Congress, as Democrats could flip six seats from the GOP in the Golden State, transforming the California delegation into one which has 45 Democrats, and just eight Republicans.
New vote results released on Tuesday pushed Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) behind for the first time in her re-election race, and sharply cut the lead of Republican Young Kim, vying for an open seat in California’s 39th district, as a number of elections experts predicted Kim would also soon be trailing.
“What’s cool is that it’s the week after election night and we are still flipping seats,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), as Democrats celebrated their seemingly daily gains of the past week.
“I mean, it’s pretty clear what’s going on in California,” tweeted political expert Harry Enten.
Democrats are now at a gain of 33 seats in the House – which could grow closer to 40, as nine seats remain undecided.
As the evidence grew of further election losses in California, House Republicans were scheduled Wednesday to vote on their new slate of leaders for 2019, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) – one of the few safe Republicans from California – ready to assume the helm as House Minority Leader.
“Kevin McCarthy not only has the expertise, he’s a team player,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), who had no qualms about backing McCarthy for the GOP slot.
McCarthy’s only opponent is a leader of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was given little chance of winning by home state colleagues like Turner.
“You can’t be a member that votes ‘no’ all the time, and then attempt to lead in any way,” Turner said of his fellow Ohio Republican.
But supporters of Jordan argued that after being knocked out of the majority, it was time for something different, not the same GOP leadership.
Meanwhile, Democrats were having their own behind-the-scenes maneuvers on their future leaders, as a small group of Democrats were saying they would block the effort of Rep. Nancy Pelosi to again assume the post of Speaker.
“Nancy Pelosi has proven herself as a first-rate legislator,” said Rep.-Elect Donna Shalala of Florida, as Pelosi supporters tried to snuff out any hint of growing opposition.
If Pelosi takes the gavel again as Speaker, she would be the first person to resume the Speakership since Sam Rayburn in the 1950’s.
Democrats won’t hold their leadership elections until after Thanksgiving.