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220, 221, whatever it takes: Chalk one more up for House Republicans

To quote Agatha Christie, and then there was one. Two, actually, if you don’t trust Adam Frisch’s concession to Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s third congressional district. Or maybe even three — if you believe in Alaska ranked-choice-voting miracles.

For the rest of us, the call last night in California’s third CD pushes the number of House Republicans to 221. Kevin Kiley’s 15,527-vote lead with 83% of the ballots counted was enough for an Associated Press call. Kiley beat Kermit Jones by nearly six points in the rural district that hugs the Sierra Nevada:

Republican Kevin Kiley, a state legislator who became a conservative favorite for his pointed and relentless criticism of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, captured a U.S. House seat Tuesday in northeastern California.

With 83% of ballots counted, Kiley received nearly 53% of the votes to defeat Democrat Kermit Jones, a doctor and Navy veteran.

The win will pad the margin of Republican control in the House. The GOP seized the majority from Democrats last week when California Rep. Mike Garcia was re-elected and gave the party its 218th seat. With Kiley’s victory, the tally stands at 220 Republicans and 212 Democrats.

Officially it stands at 220. Frisch’s concession in Colorado has no real legal standing, and a recount will take place by statute anyway (Frisch made clear he didn’t request one). That race is all but over, however. It may have taken too long to count the votes in CO-3, but that was more a function of military ballots and the razor-thin margins that made their count critical before calling the race. It’s all but certain Boebert has won re-election, although she will need to think very carefully about the reasons she nearly lost it in an R+6 district and a cycle that should have made it easy for Republicans to run the table.

Realistically, only one House race remains to be decided, even if media trackers show three. Boebert has CO-3, and Alaska’s at-large seat will go to Democrat Mary Peltola as soon as today, when the RCV process finishes up and she easily bags enough second-choice votes from Nick Begich to beat Sarah Palin. Republicans gave that seat away. (They will keep the Senate seat, however; the RCV process will also determine whether it’s Lisa Murkowski or Kelly Tshibaka, but Murkowski’s now favored to keep her spot in the upper chamber.)

The only remaining drama is in California again, where the 13th CD is coming down to the last few votes to be counted. The lead in this Merced-based district has changed more than once in this contest between John Duarte and Adam Gray, but right now Duarte has the edge:

In one of the nation’s last uncalled midterm races for the U.S. House of Representatives, a Republican farmer remains slightly ahead of a Democratic Assemblyman.

John Duarte, a Modesto Republican, had 50.2% of the votes with almost 99% of them counted. He has a 592-vote lead on Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, in California’s 13th Congressional District.

It could take many more days to project a victor.

That means I have many more days to use my Mr. Mom joke — “220, 221, whatever it takes.” Republicans are likely to land on either 221 or 222. The higher number would clearly be better, but functionally they’re equivalent for the purposes of the caucus. Unlike Nancy Pelosi in her 222-213 advantage, Kevin McCarthy won’t be expected to deliver legislation for Joe Biden’s agenda — just the opposite. However, at some point, voters will expect the House to govern at the basic levels — budgeting especially — and will judge that when it comes to 2024’s elections. That’s where every seat helps.

In the meantime, here’s my favorite midterm joke again. By next week, I’m hoping to update this with the theme song from Room 222, because I do a little bit of everything — I write poetry, paint, sculpt. Stay tuned, so to speak. Want a beer?

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