House Flipping to Democratic Control, But GOP Makes Gains in Senate

Source: By Chris Clayton, DTN/Progressiv Farmer • Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2018

Embattled Rep. Steve King, in Iowa’s 4th congressional district, held off his toughest Democratic challenger yet as controversial comments on race and diversity nearly cost King in a normally reliably conservative area. King is a senior member of the House Ag Committee.

New York Rep. John Faso R-19th, another Ag Committee member, lost the Hudson Valley district to Antonio Delgado, a former rapper, but also a Rhodes Scholar.

In California, another House Ag member, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-10th, held a 1,300 vote lead on Wednesday. Denham has pushed water issues in the California 10th Congressional District in his race against Democrat Josh Harder. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, won easily even as Democrats picked up some seats in Texas. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the committee, also held his seat easily.

Reflecting some of the change in Congress, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, lost his re-election to Democrat Colin Allred, a former pro football player and attorney in the Obama administration.


Allred’s election in Texas was likely buoyed by strong suburban support for Democrat Beto O’Rourke, but O’Rourke lost his bid Tuesday to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Democratic chances in the Senate collapsed early when Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, lost in Indiana to Republican businessman Mike Braun in an early call. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Indiana’s former governor, won the state by nearly 20 points two years ago.

In North Dakota, GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer will move to the Senate after defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, also pegged early as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Drama came early on election night in key races in Florida. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson fell behind in Florida to GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who was down by more than 56,000 votes with 99% of precincts reported. The race remained officially uncalled on Wednesday.

In Tennessee, GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn also kept the Senate seat in Republican hands.

In another GOP gain, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill lost to Republican Josh Hawley, the state’s attorney general. Hawley carried nearly every rural county in the state in getting the win.

In Montana, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, a farmer, was trailing his race early Wednesday to state auditor Matt Rosendale by 2,567 votes, marking another potential loss for Democrats.

In Mississippi, appointed incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith led early Wednesday over Democrat Mike Espy, a former secretary of agriculture under former President Bill Clinton, by 41.5% to 40.6% with 94% of precincts voting. With Chris McDaniel, another Republican in the race pulling 16.4% of the vote, Espy and Hyde-Smith will be forced into a runoff race at the end of November.

In Utah, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney won a Senate seat to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch. Among other Senate results, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee won, including Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Chris Clayton can be reached at