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They gave up House seats to run for other office. Most lost

Bright spots were Budd, Mullin, Welch and Brown, while Bass predicts win

New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks onstage Tuesday about his run for governor, a race he ultimately lost.
New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks onstage Tuesday about his run for governor, a race he ultimately lost. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP/Getty Images)

Sixteen House members sought the greener pastures of other offices this cycle — with mixed results for the eight who survived primaries and were on the ballot Tuesday. 

Reps. Peter Welch, a Democrat, and Republican Markwayne Mullin cruised to easy Senate victories for open seats in Vermont and Oklahoma, respectively, and Rep. Ted Budd won a tighter race in North Carolina against Democrat Cheri Beasley. 

“This so-called sleepy race, I think we sounded a loud and clear message to Washington, D.C., tonight,” Budd said during his victory speech. “It’s time now to put the brakes on the Biden agenda of reckless spending, overregulation and higher taxes.” 

Another winner Tuesday was Democratic Rep. Anthony G. Brown, who will be Maryland’s attorney general. Brown, a former lieutenant governor who was first elected to Congress in 2016, tweeted that he is looking forward to serving the people of Maryland. 

“We can build a more just and equitable state, defend and expand upon the rights that generations have fought for, and lift up one another to reach our highest potential,” Brown said on Twitter following his win.

Democratic Rep. Karen Bass remains locked in a close race with developer Rick Caruso in the race for mayor of Los Angeles, with Caruso holding a slight lead with less than half of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning. Bass, who was first elected to Congress in 2010 and was on President Joe Biden’s short list of vice presidential prospects, ran to the left of Caruso. 

Bass projected victory during her election night speech, though she said it may take a few days before all the votes are counted. 

“We will have a new Los Angeles, when we win,” Bass said. “We will win.” 

Two Florida Democratic representatives fell short in their statewide runs, with former Rep. Charlie Crist losing to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Val B. Demings failing to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio. DeSantis beat Crist by nearly 20 percentage points in a landslide reelection victory for the potential 2024 presidential candidate.  

Crist, a former Republican governor, is a known quantity to Florida voters. He won the 2006 governor’s election as a Republican, but he followed that victory with losses in the 2010 Republican Senate primary against Rubio and as an independent in the general election. 

Crist then switched parties and ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014, falling just short in his attempt to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott. He was elected to the House in 2016 but resigned this summer to focus on his gubernatorial bid.   

Crist said he was at peace with the result during his concession speech. 

“Florida has been great to me my entire life,” Crist said. “I can’t thank all of my fellow Floridians for so much for so long. It’s been an absolute blessing to serve as governor before, to serve as the congressman from my hometown, I feel like the most blessed man ever.” 

Demings, the former Orlando police chief, was first elected to Congress in 2016. She was an impeachment manager for the first impeachment of President Donald Trump in 2020 and was also on Biden’s short list of vice presidential prospects. With nearly all of the votes counted, Rubio led by just over 16 percentage points. 

“While, Florida, we did not get the result we wanted tonight … we can never tire of doing good,” Demings said in her concession speech. “We must look to our next fight, to stand for the values we believe in and hold America to its promise of liberty and justice, not just for the privileged few, but for all.” 

In New York, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin failed in his attempt to take down New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, though he outperformed recent Republican nominees for governor in the blue state. Zeldin, who focused his campaign on crime, sought to be the first Republican to win a gubernatorial election in New York since 2002. 

Zeldin predicted the margin would narrow as Election Day votes continued to be counted during remarks around midnight Tuesday, though The Associated Press called the race for Hochul about an hour later. 

“We came to this with passion, to have a debate of ideas for a better direction for New York, and we’re still totally committed to seeing it through,” Zeldin said. 

Eight current House members lost their primaries while seeking higher office. Rep. Conor Lamb lost the Pennsylvania Senate primary in May to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who defeated Republican television doctor Mehmet Oz on Tuesday. 

New York Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi finished a distant third in the primary for New York governor behind Hochul, receiving just 12.6 percent of the vote. And Souzzi’s Long Island seat flipped to Republicans on Tuesday, with Republican George Santos defeating Democrat Robert Zimmerman. 

Similarly, freshman Democratic Rep. Kai Kahele finished a distant third in his primary for Hawaii governor, receiving just 14.1 percent of the vote and losing to Lt. Gov. Joshua Green, who won Tuesday. 

Three House Republicans lost contentious primary campaigns for Senate. Rep. Mo Brooks lost to Katie Britt, outgoing Sen. Richard C. Shelby’s former chief of staff who easily won election Tuesday. 

Missouri Republican Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long lost in the primary to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who easily won election Tuesday as well. 

In other races, longtime Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert attempted to unseat Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton but finished a distant fourth in the primary with just 17.1 percent of the vote. 

With the backing of Trump, Rep. Jody B. Hice sought to unseat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger after Raffensberger pushed back on Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state. Hice fell short in the primary, with 34 percent of the vote compared with 52 percent for Raffensberger.

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