Republicans Gain More House Seats; Two Races Still Undecided

Some California and New York races embroiled in recount and court cases.

Nov. 24, 2010— -- As freshman lawmakers chart out the course for the next Congress, incumbents are holding their breath in two House races around the country that could determine whether Republicans will gain a greater advantage in the next Congress.

Republicans on Tuesday won two additional seats in the House, bringing the count to 242, with Democrats holding 190 seats.

Republicans emerged victorious in Texas Tuesday when incumbent Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz conceded to his Republican challenger, Blake Farenthold.

Like many of his counterparts, Ortiz, a 28-year veteran of the House, faced heavy anti-Washington sentiment. He lost by a mere 800 votes.

Farenthold, a former radio show host, has no experience in politics, and his claim to fame was a picture that showed him in duck pajamas standing with two women, one in lingerie and another in short-shorts.

Democrats suffered another blow in New York's 25th District, where incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei conceded to Republican Ann Marie Buerkle. Maffei trailed Buerkle by 567 votes.

The freshman congressman pondered whether to ask for a recount, but he would have had to come up with additional money to pay for it. And given that fewer than 400 absentee ballots were in question, even if Maffei won them all, it would not have made a difference in the final outcome.

Democrats did get respite in California's 20th District, where the Associated Press called the race in favor of Democratic Rep. Jim Costa. The three-term congressman was leading his Republican opponent Andy Vidack by more than 2,500 votes.

Targeted by Republicans as closely aligned with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's agenda, Costa faced a tough battle to win a fourth term. Republicans have already targeted the incumbent for the next election cycle as his supporters highlight his efforts on the economy and on behalf of his constituents.

House Race Not Over for Some Incumbents

Two races in California and New York remain undecided, all with Democratic incumbents on the line.

Democrats hope to get some respite in New York's 1st District, which includes Long Island, where four-term congressman Tim Bishop is in a neck-and-neck race with Republican Randy Altschuler.

The seesaw race last had Bishop up by a mere handful of votes, but Altschuler has challenged many absentee ballots in a fight that some say could end up in court.

Republican candidate David Harmer has refused to concede in California's 11th District, even though he is trailing well behind Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney.

McNerney has already declared victory, but the results have yet to be certified, and Harmer is contemplating a potential recount.