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Key wins ensured GOP-led House

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., won a tight race to earn a fourth term in Congress. The Star Tribune
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., overcame redistricting favoring the GOP to keep his congressional seat. AP
AFP/Getty Images
Allen West , R-Fla., was a Tea Party advocate during his freshman term in the House. AFP | Getty Images

Despite voters' deep frustration with Washington politics, Republicans held onto their control of the House, bolstered by redistricting and built-in advantages of incumbency.

The GOP majority guarantees the White House of at least two more years of wrangling and potential gridlock. It also calls into question the longevity of the Tea Party movement and the future of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California upon two bad election cycles.

Winners and losers in key House races:

Tea Party

Rep. Allen West of Florida

A retired Army lieutenant colonel, this freshman who became a Tea Party champion lost his 22nd District seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy. West, 51, is Florida's first black Republican congressman since Reconstruction. His rhetoric won him supporters and critics.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota

The failed Republican presidential nomination candidate won a fourth term representing the 6th District in a tight race against Democrat Jim Graves, a hotel-chain founder who heads Graves Hospitality. Bachmann, 56, is a founder of the Tea Party Caucus and the state's first Republican woman in Congress.

Rust Belt

Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio

The freshman Republican kept former Rep. Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville from regaining the 6th District seat. The conservative Johnson, 57, of Marietta is a member of the Republican Study Committee and the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership. The district once was a Democratic stronghold.

Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio

The former mayor of Wadsworth in northeast Ohio, Renacci, 53, won a second term by prevailing against Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton in one of the few races pitting incumbents against one another. Renacci, a CPA and financial adviser, grew up in Monongahela in Washington County. His win in the 16th District — spreading from Canton to Ashland — solidifies the Republican delegation's 2010 sweep in Ohio.

New England vs. Deep South

Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire

The state's first all-female delegation in Washington beat Republicans who defeated them two years ago. Shea-Porter, 59, reclaimed the 1st District seat she held for two terms. Kuster, 56, defeated Rep. Charlie Bass, who held the 2nd District seat for six terms, lost in 2006 and came back in 2010. The women are among Democrats who shut out Republicans in New England's 21 House seats.

Rep. John Barrow of Georgia

Conversely, Republicans bolstered their overall majority by eliminating all but one remaining white southern Democrat — Barrow of Georgia's 12th District. In office since 2005, Barrow, 57, kept his seat even though it was redrawn to favor GOP candidates. He and challenger Lee Anderson, a state lawmaker, drew campaign donations from across the country.


Alan Grayson of Florida

No cycle is complete without a few former House members trying to win back their seats. That includes the flamboyant and partisan Democrat Grayson, 54, who won the 9th District seat against Republican Todd Long. The redrawn seat favors the Democratic Party. Grayson was elected in 2008 in the 8th District but lost that seat in 2010 to Republican Daniel Webster.

Salena Zito is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at szito@tribweb.

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