Calls, Uncalled, and a Recount

By Jim Ellis

New York state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R) wins the US House Staten Island District.

Nov. 13, 2020 — With the presidential race heading to the courts in order to resolve challenges and outstanding legal issues, and the final two Senate races advancing to Jan. 5 runoff elections in Georgia, we find the most recent relevant political action occurring in the outstanding US House races.

Two more congressional race winners have been officially called. In New York, Staten Island freshman Rep. Max Rose (D) yesterday publicly conceded defeat to state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R). While the counting substantial numbers of mail ballots continues, Malliotakis’ large 37,000-plus vote lead appears strong enough to defend against any last minute Rose charge.

The congressman indicated that he is conceding even though the vote gap is closing between he and Assemblywoman Malliotakis, a former New York City mayoral candidate. Rose stated his late-breaking progress would not be enough to overcome Malliotakis’ overall lead, thus he ends the race before the counting process concludes.

The Republican win boosts the party’s national gain total to a net seven official seats, but that number is likely to expand to at least nine and could go as high as a dozen once all of the races are completed and officially certified.

For the Democrats, Illinois freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) also capped her come-from-behind victory with an official call yesterday. After trailing for most of the counting period, Underwood surpassed state senator and frequent candidate Jim Oberweis (R) to secure a second term. Her unofficial margin is 4,604 votes from a turnout of just over 396,000 individuals, a record participation factor for this Chicago suburban district.

While other races are being called, one contest that had been declared on election night is now coming back into the undetermined realm. Originally, New Jersey freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) had been projected the winner over state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R), but now the Associated Press and New York Times have rescinded their victory calls. The reason is the post-election vote totals continue to favor Kean to a large degree, cutting the congressman’s lead to only 6,275 ballots with potentially as many as 60,000 votes remaining to be counted.

For Kean to overcome the deficit, he would have to garner approximately 55 percent of the outstanding ballots. New Jersey election officials count in sequential order in relation to when the ballots were received. They are reporting that Democrats generally voted earlier than Republicans, so these late counting ballots are more likely to favor the GOP candidate. Therefore, it appears the race is not yet over.

In the Hawkeye State of Iowa, local state legislator Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), leading by just 47 votes from over 394,000 ballots cast, yesterday declared victory over former state senator and 2018 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart. The move, however, may prove premature. Though the vote is final and certified, which had to happen by Tuesday under Iowa election law, Hart is in the process of requesting a full district recount in a CD that covers all or parts of 24 different counties.

The original totals were marred by mistakes in two localities, Democratic Jasper County and Republican Lucas County. The errors have been corrected and the final tallies in both counties have been verified. The districtwide recount will ensure a correct final total.

Seven-term Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) chose to retire upon completion of the current term, so a Miller-Meeks victory would be a gain for the GOP. The recount, once all of the official paperwork is formally filed to begin the process, will occur next week.

To summarize, the Democrats have again secured the House majority, but their current conference total sits at 218 as compared to 204 for the GOP with 13 races remaining undetermined. Of the 13, the Republican candidate leads in 10, but not all of those will yield final GOP victories.

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