Predicted by pundits and pollsters of just about every leaning, the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives after four years came as no surprise. The surprise was the magnitude of the Republican sweep last night, as the GOP not only won the 39 seats it needed for a majority but seemed headed toward a net gain of more than sixty seats.
With more than forty Democratic House Members unseated by Republican challengers and another 15 seats relinquished by Democrats falling to GOP candidates, the GOP appeared headed last night to taking their present minority (179 seats to 256 held by Democrats) to their largest House majority in the House since 1946.
As of this writing, several races in California, Washington State and other western states, as well as those in Hawaii, remained undecided; in addition, it was unclear whether re-election or defeat was the fate of Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas), much of the West.
Democrats did unseat Reps. Joseph Cao (R-La.) and Charles Djou (R-Hawaii), both of whom had won special elections in heavily Democratic turf, and picked up the seat relinquished by Delaware’s at large Rep. Mike Castle, liberal GOPer.
Look at All Those Senior Members Losing!
What seemed to be an entire generation of powerful House Democrats went down in the Republican sweep. Among the mighty Democrats who were felled last night was d House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (Mo.), who was first elected in 1976, and House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (SC), first elected in 1983. Skelton lost to Vickie Hartzloff, former spokesman for the “yes” forces on Missouri’s marriage amendment, and Spratt lost to GOP State Sen. Mick Mulvaney, a tea party favorite.
Two other Democrats elected in 1982—Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania and Rick Boucher of Virginia—lost to Hazleton (PA) Mayor and illegal immigration opponent Lou Barletta and Virginia state legislator Morgan Griffith respectively.
By now, just about everyone is learning more about Speaker-to-be John Boehner (OH.), his leadership team, and who the new committee chairmen will be.
Overlooked by much of the liberal media so far is that this large class of Republican Members-elect will be one of the most conservative in modern times. Even in the “Gingrich class” that made possible the GOP takeover of the House in 1994, there were still several moderate and liberal Republicans—Bill Martini (N.J.), Charles Bass (N.H.), and Tom Davis (VA) among them. Combined with the group of non-conservative Republicans already in the House at the time (Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, Sherwood Boehlert of New York, and others), conservatives were often frustrated in their efforts to have decisive votes on key issues such as rolling back government spending or actually closing down a government agency.
Of the Republicans elected to the House last night, only one out of the near-sixty could be considered a non-conservative: New Hampshire’s Bass, who won back the 2nd District seat (Concord) he lost in 2006. The rest could all be labeled as conservative, with almost all calling for repeal of “Obamacare” and quite a few of them campaigning on “red meat” conservative issues such as abolishing the Department of Education or taking a fresh look at entitlements such as Medicare.
Even before the elections, House Republicans had managed to line up unanimity among their ranks to oppose the Democratic health-care bill passed by Congress and on other issues important to the White House.
Now that Republicans have a majority and conservatives are in the political driver’s seat, it seems a foregone conclusion that all big-spending items on the Obama agenda will be stopped in the new House.
Look at these Republicans!
The new class of House Republicans includes more businessmen and more veterans than in recent classes. 33-year-old attorney Ben Quayle, son of Dan and Marilyn Quayle, won a seat in Arizona in his first-ever political race in part by declaring “Barack Obama is the worst President in history.” State Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina became only the third African-American Republican House Member since the Depression (asked what he thought of President Obama, Scott replied: “Socialist.”) and retired U.S. Army Colonel Allen West the fourth black GOPer to serve in the House. West unseated Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in Florida’s 22nd District. State Sen. and stalwart conservative Dan Webster won a Florida seat by unseating freshman Democrat Alan Grayson, who made headlines with speeches on the House floor suggesting GOP opposition to health care legislation was causing death.
Also in the new class of GOP lawmakers were a number of women, including Montgomery (AL) City Councilwoman Martha Roby (who had a reputation for opposing tax increases in her city) and Missouri’s Hartzloff.
The GOP’s “Class of 2010” even includes a former HUMAN EVENTS intern, Indiana’s Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who is best known for arguing his state’s law requiring photo identification to vote to the Supreme Court.
As large as it is, the Republican class of House Members elected last night also gives great hope to conservatives for actually coming up with fresh ideas and leadership on key issues. That is a big order with a Democratic President, but it’s also a class that looks as though it wants to do something big.
Cartoon courtesy of Brett Noel.