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Democrats Trail in 5 Undecided House Races

Two weeks after Election Day, there are seven House races up in the air. Some are already headed to recounts, while votes are still being counted in others. 

Democratic incumbents in two races have both declared victory, but their opponents have not yet conceded. If Democrats are not able to reverse the outcomes of the five races where Members trail, it would mean an overall net GOP gain of 65 seats. The contest in Illinois’ 8th district is the closest, with Rep. Melissa Bean trailing by roughly 347 votes. It’s already gotten messy between the two camps and doesn’t appear headed to an easy resolution anytime soon.

California 11th: 1,751 votes separating candidates

Sophomore Rep. Jerry McNerney claimed victory last week with an “insurmountable lead” of 1,681 votes. Thousands of votes have been counted since, and the Democrat’s lead over Republican David Harmer has grown to 1,751. However, thousands more votes are still uncounted. In San Joaquin County, one of four counties in the district, about 9,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted. More than 52 percent of the total vote comes from San Joaquin, where Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman said a final update likely will not come until just before Thanksgiving. Harmer holds a lead of more than 5,000 votes in that county, while McNerney leads in Alameda and Santa Clara counties. The two are split in Contra Costa County. Harmer, who held a lead on election night, has refused to concede.

California 20th: 1,107 votes separating candidates

Rep. Jim Costa declared victory last week after new vote tallies boosted his lead. So far, the Democratic lawmaker is the only one to say the race is over, but his lead of 1,107 votes will be difficult for Republican Andy Vidak to close. Kern County, one of three counties in the district, was expected to release an updated vote count late Monday. With Costa leading Vidak by about 20 points in Kern and Fresno counties combined, Democrats expected Costa’s lead to increase by today as absentee ballot counting is completed. Provisional ballots will be counted in the two counties, with updates coming Wednesday and Friday. If the race is not decided by then, Democrats in the state think it will be over by the middle of next week.

Illinois 8th: 347 votes separating candidates

Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean trails Republican challenger Joe Walsh by 347 votes. Counting was on hold while clerks in the district’s three counties waited for today’s deadline to receive absentee and military ballots. The Cook County clerk’s office said Friday that 209 ballots had been returned in the four townships that overlap with the Congressional district, but not all of those will count toward the House race because either the voters don’t live in the district or they chose not to vote in the race. After the county clerks have counted the last of the ballots, they have a few days to report their results to the state board, which must declare its results by Dec. 3. The losing candidate has until Dec. 8 to ask for a recount in up to a quarter of the precincts in each of the three counties.

New York 1st: 383 votes separating candidates

Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop continues to trail Republican Randy Altschuler in a roller-coaster contest now divided by fewer than 400 votes. But this race is far from over. Local election officials will begin counting more than 10,000 absentee ballots today. There are also an additional 1,000 affidavit ballots that need to be processed. Regardless of the effect of this week’s new count, a Suffolk County Supreme Court judge has yet to decide whether to authorize a full hand recount. Such an effort — which would require the hand counting of roughly 185,000 ballots ­— has never taken place, according to local election officials. If ordered, it could be another month or longer before Bishop and Altschuler know their fate.

New York 25th: 711 votes separating candidates

Emboldened by a judge’s ruling, attorneys for Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei and Republican Ann Marie Buerkle have been poring over thousands of absentee ballot applications for much of the past week to ensure signatures match. The campaigns will bring their objections to election commissioners today, although it’s unclear how long that process will take. All the while, mail ballots continue to roll in, and there is a 711-vote difference between the candidates. Final overseas ballots aren’t due until Nov. 23. Maffei’s attorneys are pushing for a full hand recount after all the ballots are finally collected. The process could easily stretch into December if the recount is ordered. Buerkle, meanwhile, is in Washington, D.C., this week to attend the new Member orientation.

North Carolina 2nd: 1,489 votes separating candidates

Republican Renee Ellmers was in Washington, D.C., on Monday for freshman orientation, even though her challenge to Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge is now headed to a recount. Etheridge called for a recount Friday after the official results released found the Congressman within 1 percent of Ellmers. Both campaigns confirmed Monday that a recount would take place, and an Etheridge spokesman said they were awaiting word from the State Board of Elections on the schedule and guidelines. While Ellmers’ lead has decreased by more than 2,000 votes since election night, her campaign insisted that a lead as large as the 1,489 votes separating the two candidates has never in state history been erased by a recount.

Texas 27th: 799 votes separating candidates

Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz trails Republican challenger Blake Farenthold by fewer than 800 votes. Citing voting irregularities, Ortiz requested a recount last week. At first his request was denied because Texas law requires that full counties be recounted instead of only individual precincts and that the candidate must specify whether he wants a manual or an electronic recount. Ortiz filed his request again Friday, this time asking for all six counties of the district to be recounted and paying the $23,500 total for the process. The secretary of state’s elections division approved his request Friday afternoon, and all six counties have until Friday to begin the manual recount process. Kenedy County already completed its recount and found no change, according to Farenthold’s campaign, and the other five counties are expected to start midweek. Farenthold is in the Washington, D.C., for freshman orientation this week.

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