WASHINGTON — Disappointed Democrats drive toward extending their control of the House for two more years but with a potentially shrunken majority as they lose at least seven incumbents and fail to oust any Republican lawmakers in initial returns.
By midmorning today, Democrats’ only gains are two North Carolina seats vacated by GOP incumbents after a court-ordered remapping made the districts more Democratic. Though they seem likely to retain House control, their performance is an unexpected disappointment for the party, which hoped for modest gains of perhaps 15 seats.
After decades of trying, Republicans defeat 15-term Representative Collin Peterson from a rural Minnesota district that backed President Donald Trump in 2016 by 31 percentage points, Trump’s biggest margin in any Democratic-held district. Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, opposed Trump’s impeachment and is one of the House’s most conservative Democrats. He is defeated by Republican Michelle Fischbach, the former lieutenant governor.
In Iowa, GOP state Representative Ashley Hinson defeats freshman Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer to win a hard-fought race for the state’s northeastern congressional seat. Hinson is a former television news anchor.
Also losing are freshmen Democrats Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala, health secretary under president Bill Clinton, in adjacent South Florida districts where Trump seems to consolidate support among Cuban voters. Others defeated are Democratic freshmen Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Kendra Horn in Oklahoma, who had surprising victories in 2018 in districts Trump carried decisively in 2016.
Democrats are also disappointed in the Senate, where they nursed fading hopes of winning the majority. Trump’s challenge from Democrat Joe Biden remains too close to call.