House Wrap-Up

Campaign 2006 | A look at some key House races in the 2006 election

Issue: "GOP downfall," Nov. 18, 2006


John Hostettler may wish he could have approached his reelection campaign a bit differently. Long considered a maverick by the White House, Hostettler refused an offer by Bush to come campaign for him personally in Indiana. Of the three Indiana incumbents who lost, Hostettler had the most favorable district but still lost by the greatest margin. Much of that can be attributed to his opponent, Democrat Brad Ellsworth.


Losing Sen. Rick Santorum wasn't the only Pennsylvania Republican feeling blue. Four Keystone State Republicans lost in congressional races-none in a more surprising turn of events than Curt Weldon. The conservative seemed to be on his way to reelection before a Justice Department inquiry just weeks before Election Day cast an ethics cloud on Weldon and allowed Democrat Joe Sestak to win easily.

New Hampshire-1

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Few thought Carol Shea-Porter had a real chance to unseat incumbent Jeb Bradley prior to Election Day. But as votes added up, it became clear that the grassroots fervor for Shea-Porter, the Democratic challenger, manifested as a real force. "We got caught in the perfect storm," Bradley said in his concession speech. "Sometimes the pendulum swings one way and then it swings back. We'll look forward to when it swings back."

New Hampshire-2

It may be hard to call New Hampshire a red state anymore. After Democratic victories in the 1st District and in the gubernatorial race, GOP Rep. Charlie Bass fell to Democratic challenger Paul Hodes in a Northeastern sweep of voter sentiment against President Bush and the Iraq War.

New York-19

Sue W. Kelly, part of the Republican rout in 1994, lost to John Hall, an original member of the pop group Orleans who became famous with hits like "Still the One" and "Dance with Me." Hall may have literally sung his way to victory. The former rocker was joined by various musicians on the campaign-turned-concert trail. He even sang Steven Van Zandt's song "I Am a Patriot" at the end of his victory speech.


Turns out Shelley Sekula-Gibbs will be headed to Congress after all. But it will only be a short stay. While Sekula-Gibbs won the special election to fill in the rest of former Rep. Tom DeLay's term, Democratic challenger Nick Lampson will replace her in January when the 110th Congress is sworn in.


This district includes two military communities-Fort Leavenworth and a county adjacent to Fort Riley-and usually votes heavily Republican. In 2004, former Olympic miler and incumbent Republican Jim Ryun beat Democratic challenger Nancy Boyda by nearly 44,000 votes. This year Boyda ran a populist campaign that distanced itself from the national Democratic Party, and she beat Ryun by about 8,000 votes.


Perhaps as a testament to how well GOP congressional candidates do in Florida's 16th Congressional District, GOP candidate Joe Negron managed to keep it within 1 percentage point despite the fact that Florida Republicans had to hold their noses and vote for disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley's name on the ballot. Because of Foley's late exit from the race, Foley's name persisted on the ballot-a fact that helped Democrat Tim Mahoney to victory.

Wyoming-at large

Milking a tiny lead, Republican incumbent Rep. Barbara Cubin declared victory over Gary Trauner when the Democratic challenger could not close the 800-vote gap. The small win plays out like an embarrassment for Cubin, though she will keep her job. In another statewide race featuring an incumbent Republican, Sen. Craig Thomas cruised to victory in a 70-30 triumph.


In any other year, Republicans would have been celebrating two victories in Georgia. Republicans came close in Georgia's 12th District, but former congressman Mac Collins' run at unseating Jim Marshall fell short by a razor-thin margin. Collins trailed by about 2,000 votes-enough for Marshall to stave off an automatic recount.


In losing Jim Leach, the House loses an important voice on U.S. policy toward a North Korean government bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, the liberal Republican who voted against the Iraq War and for abortion rights seems to have been caught up in anti-Iraq fervor in Iowa and a professional campaign by political science professor Dave Loebsack.


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