Thursday, November 10, 2022

With House Majority in Play, a New Class Takes Shape

It's just a matter of getting all the ballots counted. When it's done, the GOP majority will take over in the House, possibly with some Republican outliers.

At NYT, "The Republican ranks grew more extreme and slightly more diverse, while Democrats added several young liberals to their caucus":

WASHINGTON — Whoever holds the House majority in January, the new lawmakers will include a fresh crop of Republican election deniers, including a veteran who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; a handful of G.O.P. members of color; and a diverse group of young Democratic progressives.

As vote counting continued across the country on Wednesday, with Republicans grasping to take control and Democrats outperforming expectations in key races, the contours of a new class of lawmakers began to emerge.

It featured a sizable contingent of Republicans who have questioned or denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election, many of them hailing from safely red districts, adding to an already influential extreme right in the House. At least 140 of the House Republicans who won election this week are election deniers, at least 15 of them new additions.

A handful of Black and Latina Republicans also won, adding a touch more diversity to a mostly white, male conference — though far less than leaders had hoped as many candidates they had recruited for their potential to appeal to a broader set of voters in competitive districts fell short.

For Democrats, the election ushered in younger, more diverse members to fill the seats of departing incumbents. Many of those candidates had held state offices or previously sought seats in Congress and are expected to back many of the priorities of the Democratic left wing.

Here are some of the new faces:

The Republicans

Jen A. Kiggans, a Navy veteran and state senator.

As a woman with military experience, Ms. Kiggans was regarded by Republicans as a prime recruit to put up against a centrist Democrat in a conservative-leaning area. She defeated Representative Elaine Luria on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, propelled in part by state redistricting that tilted the district more decisively to the right.

She focused her campaign narrowly on inflation and public safety, and was bolstered by top Republicans, including Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader who is running to become speaker should his party retake the House, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin. That suggested that she would be more likely to serve as an acolyte to Republican leaders than a thorn in their sides.

But though she ran as a mainstream candidate, Ms. Kiggans declined throughout her campaign to say whether she believed Mr. Biden was legitimately elected.

Derrick Van Orden, a veteran at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

A retired Navy SEAL who rallied at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Van Orden flipped a key seat for Republicans in western Wisconsin, in a largely rural district currently held by Representative Ron Kind, a 13-term centrist Democrat who did not seek re-election.

Much remains uncertain. For the second Election Day in a row, election night ended without a clear winner. Nate Cohn, The Times’s chief political analyst, takes a look at the state of the races for the House and Senate, and when we might know the outcome:

The House. Republicans are likelier than not to win the House, but it is no certainty. There are still several key races that remain uncalled, and in many of these contests, late mail ballots have the potential to help Democrats. It will take days to count them.

The Senate. The fight for the Senate will come down to three states: Nevada, Georgia and Arizona. Outstanding ballots in Nevada and Arizona could take days to count, but control of the chamber may ultimately hinge on Georgia, which is headed for a Dec. 6 runoff.

How we got here. The political conditions seemed ripe for Republicans to make big midterm pickups, but voters had other ideas. Read our five takeaways and analysis of why the “red wave” didn’t materialize for the G.O.P.

Mr. Van Orden, who emphasized his military service on the campaign trail, largely ducked questions about his attendance at the Jan. 6 rally. He has said he did not go into the Capitol, and wrote in an opinion essay that he left the grounds outside the building when violence began, watching “what should have been an expression of free speech devolve into one of the most tragic incidents in the history of our nation.”

During his race, Mr. Van Orden leaned heavily into culture war messaging, accusing Democrats of “taking the nation rapidly down the path to socialism” and railing on a podcast against what he described as “woke ideology” seeping into the military.

John James, an Iraq veteran set to expand the House’s ranks of Black Republicans.

West Point graduate who commanded Apache helicopters in Iraq, Mr. James was personally lobbied for months to run by party leaders including Mr. McCarthy, who were convinced that his victory would keep this Michigan seat safely in Republican hands for years to come.

Mr. James, who unsuccessfully challenged Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan, in 2020, ran a more moderate campaign than many of his colleagues in safe seats. He presented himself to voters as “an open-minded, freethinking conservative,” and focused on kitchen table issues like lowering prices and bringing back manufacturing.

His victory will nudge up the number of Black Republicans in the House to at least three from two.

Monica De La Cruz, the conservative from the Rio Grande Valley.

Ms. De La Cruz emphasized her conservative ideology in flipping a seat in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas abandoned by an incumbent who switched districts after the state legislature handed him an unfavorable gerrymander.

Ms. De La Cruz, who owns an insurance firm, had campaigned heavily on the influx of illegal migrants at the southern border, emphasizing how her family had immigrated legally to the United States from Mexico and pledging to “finish the wall” started by former President Donald J. Trump.

Republicans had enthusiastically pointed to her candidacy, as well as those of two other Latinas running in the Rio Grande Valley — Mayra Flores and Cassy Garcia — as evidence that they were finally making inroads with Latino voters. But both Ms. Flores and Ms. Garcia lost, according to The Associated Press.

Andy Ogles, a hard-right former mayor.

A former mayor, Mr. Ogles flipped a Democratic-held seat in central Tennessee thanks to a drastic redrawing of the district that all but guaranteed a Republican victory.

Outspoken, hard-right lawmakers like Mr. Ogles could cause headaches for Republican leaders as they try to keep the government funded and prevent the country from defaulting on its debt.

After triumphing in his primary election, Mr. Ogles called for the impeachment of Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as “treason” charges against Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, over the administration’s handling of immigration at the southern border. And a video released by his Democratic opponent showed him at a G.O.P. candidate forum following the repeal of Roe v. Wade arguing that the “next thing we have to do is go after gay marriage.” ...