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Published: Friday, November 16, 2018 @ 5:22 PM
Over a week after being publicly ridiculed for losing her seat in Congress by President Donald Trump, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) on Friday night was on the verge of pulling off a stunning comeback in her re-election bid, as the continued counting of ballots in her Utah district finally pushed her into the lead by a slender 419 votes.
"Hard to see how she relinquishes that now," said Dave Wasserman, an elections expert who has been forecasting a possible comeback by Love for several days.
Still being tabulated are thousands of provisional ballots in Utah and Salt Lake counties, which take time to verify, as Utah and a number of other states slowly push their way through the votes of the November mid-term elections.
The jump into first place for Love came as a judge tossed out a lawsuit that she filed - which oddly would have stopped vote counting in Salt Lake County - a move that her opponent said 'smacks of desperation.'
"Utah voters deserve better than this," said Democrat Ben McAdams.
But the McAdams lead over Love has slowly withered away in recent days, leaving Love favored by many to win re-election.
A comeback victory would be filled with irony, especially after the mocking ridicule heaped upon Love and a number of other House Republicans by President Donald Trump, who said the day after the elections that Love and others were defeated because they refused to embrace him.
"Mia Love gave me no love and she lost," the President said, almost seeming to enjoy the outcome. "Too bad. Sorry about that Mia."
Two weekends after the elections, a small number of races remained undecided - with some that could stretch until after Thanksgiving:
FLORIDA SENATE - With a manual recount finishing up, and Florida's 67 counties waiting through Saturday to deal with any other stray ballots, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) seems headed for victory over Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). This will give the GOP a big victory, and a 2 seat margin in the U.S. Senate.
CALIFORNIA 39 - This is the first of six (or maybe seven) undecided House races. After holding the lead for days, Republican Young Kim has now been swamped by late votes coming from both Orange and Los Angeles counties, and now trails Democrat Gil Cisneros by over 3,000 votes. This should complete what is a total GOP wipeout in Orange County, as Democrats would gain six GOP seats in the Golden State.
CALIFORNIA 21 - This seat has already been called by the AP and other news organizations for the Republicans, but as the votes keep coming in, Rep. David Valadao's lead keeps shrinking, and some wonder if he can hold on. This might be a long shot, but it bears watching. It's hard to fathom that Democrats could gain a seventh seat in California.
UTAH 4 - As mentioned above, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) now has the lead. This would be a big save for Republicans, who have had very little to cheer about in the past 10 days since the elections. In fact, there has been an almost daily drumbeat of Democratic victories each night since then, as they edge closer to a possible pickup of almost 40 House seats, their largest gains since 1974 after Watergate.
NEW YORK 22 - This seat can probably be called for the Democrats by the AP and other organizations, as absentee ballot counts on Friday went clearly for Democrat Anthony Brindisi, leaving Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) behind by over 3,000 votes in this northern New York district. This is not a spot where the GOP should have lost.
NEW YORK 27 - Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) still leads by over 1,000 votes in this western New York district, with one big cache of absentee ballots and provisionals to count next Tuesday around Buffalo. Democrat Nate McMurray has been winning a majority of absentee ballots in recent days in counties where he lost the Election Day vote, making some wonder if he has a chance to win this race at the last minute next week. This is the equivalent of betting a horse that's maybe 9-1. It might win.
GEORGIA 7 - While the race for Governor is over, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) has a 419 vote edge in this suburban Atlanta district, with all of the votes counted. Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux announced on Friday afternoon that she would ask for a recount. While a recount doesn't usually switch the outcome, we have certainly seen in Florida and other states in recent days where there are tabulation errors uncovered - so you can't say this is in the bag for the GOP - but they are favored.
TEXAS 23 - Even though she's behind by just under 1,000 votes, Cindy Ortiz Jones spent the week in Washington going through freshman orientation, but that may not work out for the Texas Democrat, as Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) seems like he's in good position in this race, leading by 0.5 percent. Hurd's people on Friday were declaring victory, but it wasn't clear if Jones would press for any kind of vote review. Republicans are favored to hold on to this border district, but it was much closer than anyone had predicted.
Democrats right now have a net gain of 36 seats - they should win at least two of the undecided races left, and have an outside chance at others.
Right now, the new Congress stands at 231 Democrats to 198 Republicans, with six seats undecided.
One final note - this extended time of vote counting is totally normal. Reporters follow it every two years, but many partisans think there is something amiss.