Rep. Ben Chandler, a five-term Blue Dog Democrat from Kentucky, became the first House incumbent to lose re-election Tuesday night when the Associated Press declared Republican Andy Barr the winner.
The race was a rematch with Barr, a Lexington attorney whom Chandler beat by just 648 votes in 2010. In this election, Barr sought to tie Chandler to Obama administration policies he says have hurt the state's coal industry.
In North Carolina, Republican businessman Richard Hudson defeated another sitting Blue Dog, Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.
Republicans picked up two House seats in the state, currently held by moderate Democrats. Real estate developer Mark Meadows beat Hayden Rogers, the former chief of staff to Rep. Heath Shuler, who retired.
Republican George Holding, meanwhile, won the seat of Rep. Brad Miller, another veteran Blue Dog Democrat who opted to retire rather than face re-election. Holding is a former U.S. Attorney, perhaps best known for obtaining a criminal indictment against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. (A jury later acquitted Edwards of a campaign-finance charge in that case, and a mistrial was declared on other charges.)
Late into the evening, another Blue Dog contest in the Tar Heel State -- between Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre and state Sen. David Rouzer, a Republican -- was too close to call.
In Georgia, Democratic Rep. John Barrow survived a tough battle against the Republican nominee, state Rep. Lee Anderson, for the Augusta-area district.
The other Blue Dog losses, however, underscore a demographic shift underway in the Democratic Party toward women and minorities. The non-partisan Cook Political Report predicts white males will make up 46% to 48% of the House Democratic Caucus next year, down from 53% today.
Democrat-led redistricting helped the party pick up long-held Republican seats in two states.
In western Maryland, Democrat John Delaney defeated 20-year congressman Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who at 86 is one of the oldest members of the U.S. House.
In the Chicago suburbs, voters rejected another veteran -- seven-term Republican Rep. Judy Biggert -- defeated by former Democratic congressman Bill Foster. Foster, a physicist, had served a term in another district before losing in 2010.
Democrats also scored a victory in central Florida, where voters backed outspoken liberal Alan Grayson after turning him out of office two years ago. Grayson defeated Todd Long, a conservative radio host and lawyer.
"We've stopped the Tea Party tide," New York Rep. Steve Israel, who oversees the Democratic campaign operation, said Tuesday night.
Sessions, who ran House Republican election efforts, said his party retained control because "Americans were unwilling to hand the Speaker's gavel back to Nancy Pelosi because her party chose to double down on the same failed policies that caused her to lose it in the first place."
Freshmen in Tight Races
In several races, there were signs of ebbing support for the Republicans swept into office in the 2010 tide.
In suburban Chicago, outspoken Republican freshman Joe Walsh, who won by 290 votes in 2010, was defeated by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs while piloting a helicopter in Iraq.
In New York, GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle tossed out Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei by fewer than 700 votes two years ago. Maffei came back for a rematch and won the Syracuse district Tuesday.
In New Hampshire, Republican Rep. Charlie Bass, a top target of liberal groups, lost Tuesday to Democrat Ann McLane Kuster in a rematch of their closely contested 2010 race. His moderate district backed Obama in 2008 and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry four years earlier, making re-election an uphill battle for Bass.
One of the most expensive House contests featured one of Congress' best-known freshmen.
Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, elected in the Tea Party-fueled wave of 2010, quickly made his mark as a successful fundraiser and a conservative firebrand. The retired Army lieutenant colonel, for example, once estimated that as many as 80 members of Congress were communists.
Late into Tuesday, he was locked in a too-close-to-call race with Democrat Patrick Murphy, a political newcomer whose family owns a construction business.
Lawmaker vs. Lawmaker
Outside groups have splurged on other competitive races, including the hotly contested battle between Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Renacci who defeated Rep. Betty Sutton, a Democrat, after being thrown into the same suburban Cleveland district by post-2010 Census redistricting.
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