Republicans Extend Decade of House Control

WASHINGTON (AP)–The power of incumbency and an advantageous GOP redistricting in Texas swept Republicans to another two years of control over the House of Representatives.

Virtually all sitting representatives in the 435-member House won re-election–leaving Speaker Dennis Hastert–Majority Leader Tom DeLay and their GOP majority firmly in charge.

Republicans were poised to add a few seats as they embark on another term of House control–the first time the party has achieved 12 consecutive years in power in the chamber since the dozen years that ended in January 1933..

Republican leaders sought to portray the results as an affirmation of their priorities in Congress. The vote is ”an endorsement by the American people that you’re moving in the right direction when it comes to security and safety and more–on terror–prescription drugs and education,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee told CNN.

In the House–Democrats knocked off one Republican incumbent–Rep. Philip M. Crane of Illinois–the party’s longest-serving member–but came nowhere close to taking the 12 seats they needed to win back control.

Even celebrity didn’t help. Kentucky Democrat Nick Clooney–father of actor George Clooney and brother of the late singer-actress Rosemary Clooney–lost his bid for an open seat to Geoff Davis.

By early Wednesday–Republicans had won 228 seats and were leading in five other races–which could give them at least 233 seats. Democrats had won 199 seats and led in two other contests.

Republicans hold a 227-205 advantage over Democrats in the outgoing House–plus two vacant seats formerly held by Republicans who have retired and one independent who sides with Democrats.

A minimum of 218 seats are needed for House control. A final tally for the House won’t be available for several days. Two Louisiana races headed toward runoffs with Republican Billy Tauzin III against Democrat Charlie Melancon–and GOP candidate Charles Boustany and Democrat Willie Mount. Other races were yet to be called–including in Pennsylvania–Washington state–New York–Georgia and Indiana.

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