As Republicans Close The Gap, Who Will Be The New Speaker Of The House?

In the House of Representatives, Republicans were on track to retake control on Monday, as Congress returned to work and new members slated to enter office next year began orientation.

Democrats are expected to keep their Senate majority following a weekend victory in Nevada, which gave them the 50 seats needed to govern the chamber. The last Senate contest in Georgia will proceed to a runoff on December 6 because neither contender received a majority.

According to impartial experts, the GOP seemed to be on course to gain the smallest of majorities in the House. Additional vote counts in California and Arizona put Republican candidates within striking distance of victory on Sunday night, but both contests had not yet been declared.

According to the Associated Press, Republicans presently have 212 House seats, while Democrats hold 204. A party needs 218 votes to gain a majority in the chamber, and the GOP might wind up only a few seats beyond that total. The party received a boost Sunday by flipping a Democratic-held seat in Oregon.

Before the elections, the Democrats held a 220-212 majority with three vacancies. The prospect of a razor-thin GOP majority is already posing difficulties for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). Mr. McCarthy is running for speaker provided Republicans retake the House, but he is facing opposition from his party’s right side, which now has more clout in influencing the vote.

To be picked as the party’s preferred leader, Mr. McCarthy will require the support of the majority of his party at Tuesday’s leadership vote. He will need a majority of the full House in a vote in January to become speaker.

According to two people who attended the closed-door meeting on Monday, Mr. McCarthy underscored that Republicans would have the majority and would control the committee gavels regardless of the size of the conference. According to two sources, Mr. McCarthy received a standing ovation.

According to those familiar with the situation, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) intends to run against Mr. McCarthy for the position. The former President Donald Trump friend is unlikely to win, but his campaign might give a barometer of resistance to Mr. McCarthy.

According to persons familiar with the conversations, McCarthy’s allies asked Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas over the weekend if he would switch parties. Mr. Cuellar turned them down. Mr. McCarthy’s spokeswoman said the calls were not made at his request. Spokesperson Mark Bednar stated that anyone who suggests this is merely engaging in fan fiction.

During the closed-door member meeting, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) asked Mr. McCarthy if he would pursue or accept Democratic support for his speaker quest. According to two others in the room, Mr. McCarthy said, “No, and I never have.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) faced criticism from some Republican colleagues. They questioned whether the party should postpone the leadership election until after the Georgia runoff, in which Republican Herschel Walker faces Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. The Republican Senate elections are scheduled for Wednesday.

This week, new members are in Washington for orientation. Some who hadn’t had their races called were also invited and would be able to vote for leadership. The House Democrats will vote on their leadership later this month, while the Senate is set to retain its current top leaders.

Democrats outperformed expectations in the midterm elections, despite the projected loss of the House majority. They won a Republican-held Senate seat and flipped several House seats, including one in Washington over the weekend.

A half-dozen of the remaining uncalled contested House contests were in California. They featured Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin’s re-election bids and GOP Reps. David Valadao, Mike Garcia, and Michelle Steel, as well as one vacant seat. Both parties also paid special attention to close races in Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon.

While the battle for control of the House raged on, Senate Democrats celebrated their triumph, and the Arizona governor race between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs remained undecided. Ms. Hobbs was ahead by around one percentage point as of Sunday evening, with approximately 160,000 more ballots anticipated to be counted.

While Ms. Lake could win, she would have to outperform on all remaining ballots. Ms. Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, issued a statement Sunday night declaring herself the unquestionable favorite to become the next governor of Arizona.