WASHINGTON — Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives in January, capturing the chamber in a mid-term election that saw a record number of women elected, along with the first female Muslim and Native American members.
Although the blue wave desired by party activists did not get unleashed — as Republicans held on to new battleground areas in some suburbs and rural areas — the votes gave the Democrats a solid majority in the lower chamber.
Projections as of 5 a.m. Wednesday EST gave the Democrats 28 seats, according to news reports. That pickup aligned with historic swings; since 1948 the incumbent president’s party has averaged a loss of more than 28 House seats in the first midterm election.
Capturing the lower chamber means any legislation sought by President Donald Trump must be approved by Democrats. It also means Democrats will head key committees and have subpoena power.
“The president is a guy who calls truth lies and lies truth,” House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) told Vox media. “We’ve got to show what he is doing to take the foundation out of our democracy.”
One of the first questions Democrats must decide is who will lead them. A sizable number of incoming freshman told voters they would not vote for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to return as House Speaker.
That could presage whether the party follows a moderate course aimed at wooing a broader range of voters or succumbs to the increasingly stronger progressive elements in the party.
“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a fete in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night. “Thanks to you, we owned the ground.”
There were some notable upsets pulled off by Democrats. One of the most surprising was Kendra Horn leading Rep. Steve Russell in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, which had not been held by a Democrat since 1975, according to news reports.
Among the other upsets in progress were Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex), chairman of the Rules Committee since 2013, who was losing his Dallas seat projected to Democrat Colin Allred, a civil rights attorney and former NFL player and civil rights attorney. Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), in the House since 2001, was narrowly losing to Democratic challenger Lizzie Fletcher, according to news reports.
Among the record number of women elected to the House will be the first two Native American women, Democrats Debra Haaland in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas, according to news reports. Davids is also the first openly gay representative from Kansas.
The first two Muslim women were also elected, according to news reports: Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
The Democratic victory was triggered early on by multiple wins in open or GOP-held seats in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.