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Decision ’18: Last uncalled Southern U.S. House seat heading for recount

With Georgia’s 7th District remaining to be called, Democrats have netted 10 seats in the South

♦By Rich Shumate,

(CFP) — The South’s last uncalled U.S. House race, in Georgia’s 7th District, is headed for a recount with the Republican incumbent, Rob Woodall, holding a slender 419-vote lead over his Democratic challenger, Carolyn Bourdeaux.

With that race in the balance, Democrats’ overall gain in the South stands at 10, just a third of the total number of seats that they had targeted heading into the November 6 vote. All of those seats were in urban and suburban areas where the Democratic vote surged.



Bourdeaux said Friday that she will ask for a recount. Under state law, a losing candidate can seek a recount if the winning margin is less than 1 percent; Woodall’s lead is 0.14 percent.

State election officials have not announced a timetable for the recount. But Georgia uses electronic voting machines without paper ballots, so recounts tend to be finished quickly.

The 7th District is located in Atlanta’s northwest suburbs, in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.

Across the South, Democrats’ best results came in Virginia, where they ousted Republican incumbents in the 2nd, 7th and 10th Districts, which are located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Richmond and Hampton Roads.

Democrats also scored surprise wins in South Carolina’s 1st District, which includes Charleston, and Oklahoma’s 5th District, centered in Oklahoma City.

However, Democrats went 0-for-4 in targeted seats in North Carolina, 2-for-9 in Florida and 2-for-8 in Texas. They also fell short in targeted races in the upper South states of Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, where Republicans continue to hold 12 out of 13 House seats.



Democrats did win five of the six GOP-held Southern seats that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016; the lone exception was in Texas’s 23rd District, in West Texas, where Republican Will Hurd won a narrow victory. Democrat Lucy McBath also ousted Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th District, where Donald Trump won by just 1.5 points in 2016.

Four Republican House members, with a combined 48 years of service, went down in the Clinton districts, including Pete Sessions and John Culberson in Texas, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, and Carlos Curbelo in Florida. Republicans also lost in Florida’s 27th District, which U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had held for 30 years before deciding to retire.

Democrats kept all of the 40 seats they held going into the election. With the 10 Democratic gains, Southern Republicans will hold 102 seats to 50 for Democrats when Congress reconvenes in January.

In the last Congress, just 13 white Democrats who were not Latino or Asian represented Southern districts. That number will go up to 20 in January, as seven white Democrats displaced Republicans. Two of the flipped seats were won by African-American candidates and one by a Latina.

Hurd, who represents a majority Latino district, will be the only African-American Republican in the next House. Three Southern Republicans are Latino — Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Bill Flores of Texas, and Alex Mooney of West Virginia, whose mother is Cuban.

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Alex Mooney tops crowded field to win GOP U.S. House primary in West Virgina

Republican primary race in state’s 2nd District featured Tea Party-versus-establishment battle

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

west-virginia mugCHARLESTON, West Virginia (CFP) — Just a year after moving across the Potomac River from Maryland into West Virginia, Republican Alex Mooney has won his party’s nomination for his new state’s open 2nd District U.S. House seat.

GOP House candidate Alex Mooney

GOP House candidate Alex Mooney

In a seven-way race, Mooney captured 36 percent of the vote, defeating Ken Reed, a pharmacy owner from Berkeley Springs, who came in second at 22 percent, and Charlotte Lane, a Charleston lawyer and international trade commissioner under President George W. Bush, who took 18 percent of the vote.

West Virginia does not have primary runoffs.

The battle for the GOP nod in the 2nd District turned into a closely watched tussle between outside conservative activists and Tea Party groups, who backed Mooney, and business and party leaders who lined up behind Lane. Reed poured more than $500,000 of his own money into the race.

Lane had the backing of the powerful West Virginia Coal Association. Mooney was endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Tea Party Express and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Despite her establishment credentials, Mooney eclipsed Lane in fundraising by $150,000, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Both Lane and Reed had accused Mooney, who served in the Maryland Senate from 1999 to 2010, of being a carpetbagger who parachuted into West Virginia to seek political office.

He had formed an exploratory committee for a U.S. House race in Maryland in 2012 but eventually decided not to run, and he moved to West Virginia in 2013. His Maryland Senate district was adjacent to the Mountaineer State.

Nick Casey, the former chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, easily won his party’s nomination for the 2nd District seat and will face Mooney in November.

The 2nd District meanders across 17 counties from Charleston, the state capital, to the Eastern Panhandle sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia. The seat is currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is giving it up to run for the U.S. Senate.

Capito easily won her Senate primary and will face Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in the fall.

Even though Capito has held the seat since 2001 and Mitt Romney captured 60 percent of its presidential votes in 2012, Democrats see the seat as a potential pickup target. Casey has raised more than $890,000 in a district with modest media advertising costs, according to FEC reports.

Capito did not endorse any of the candidates in the Republican primary.

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