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8 Congressional Races Still Too Close to Call

Tuesday, 09 Nov 2010 09:04 PM

By David A. Patten

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One week after Election Day, seven House seats and one Senate contest remain up for grabs.

In the Senate, the battle over write-in ballots between Joe Miller and incumbent Lisa Murkowski continues in Alaska.

Miller had a net gain of 318 votes in absentee ballot counting house,senate,elections,closeTuesday, but the real action begins Wednesday, when officials begin tabulating how many write-in votes Murkowski [pictured] received.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that there were 13,439 more write-in ballots cast on Election Day than votes cast for Miller.

The "vast majority" of those 83,201 write-ins are expected to go to Murkowski, the newspaper reports. State election officials aren't expected to certify the results until Nov. 29.

The seven undecided House races are for seats now in Democratic control. Republicans are leading their Democratic opponents in five of those seven contests, meaning Republicans are poised to expand their 60-seat House landslide in the midterm elections.

Those seven House of Representatives races hanging in the balance:

California's 11th District — Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney leads Republican David Harmer by about 600 votes. But more than 10,000 absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted.

California's 20th District — Incumbent Democrat Rep. Jim Costa is hanging on for dear life. He's picked up a few votes in recent days and has been eating steadily into the 1,823-vote lead Republican challenger Andy Vidak enjoyed on election night. Vidak's lead now stands at just 145 votes. This race could be called in the next 24 hours, according to some reports.

Kentucky's 6th District — Democrat Ben Chandler, one of the endangered members of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats, is leading Republican Andy Barr by 643 votes.

Illinois' 8th District — Republican Joe Walsh is claiming victory, but his lead over Democrat Melissa Bean is just 347 votes out of more than 200,000 cast. A final count of absentee ballots isn't expected for at least a week.

New York's 1st District — It appears Republican Randy Altschuler has pulled off a remarkable comeback in his contest with incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop. Altschuler was behind by 3,000 votes on the initial count. But errors were detected when the voting machines were canvassed, and the Republican now leads by 392 votes. There are 10,000 absentee votes to count, but the majority of those are from voters whose parties endorsed Altschuler. Bishop has asked for a full recount.

New York's 25th District — Certifying a winner in this race could take weeks. Officials are making a ballot-by-ballot inspection of absentee ballots. GOP challenger Ann Marie Buerkle picked up three more votes on Tuesday, bringing her lead over incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei to 687 votes. Military and overseas ballots are considered valid if they arrive by Nov. 24.

Texas' 27th District — Republican Blake Farenthold has opened a 799-vote margin over Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz. But Ortiz filed Tuesday for a recount.

As things stand now, Republicans would end up with a net gain in the 2010 midterms of 63 seats. But despite their strong position overall, Republicans did experience one setback on Tuesday, in Northern Virginia's 11th Congressional District.

Republican challenger Keith Fimian conceded his hard-fought race against incumbent Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly.

Connolly was leading by 981 votes, or just four-tenths of 1 percent of all votes cast. The margin was close enough that Fimian was entitled to a recount.

But operatives considered the race beyond Fimian's reach, and the GOP challenger released a statement on Tuesday conceding the race.

"I congratulate Congressman Connolly on his victory," Fimian's statement said, "and send him good wishes as he moves forward to do the people's business. For me, today is the end of this campaign."

Connolly was hospitalized briefly after the election for what was described as an arterial blockage. He underwent a routine procedure and a full recovery is expected.

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