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Dems Pick Up Another House Seat - 233-202
NY Times Blog
By Kate Phillips
December 13, 2006

Adding another victory to the Democrats' sizable scoops this season, former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez reclaimed a seat in the House with his runoff victory against incumbent Henry Bonilla, who had served seven terms. The vote was 54 percent to 46 percent.

This was an interesting race for several reasons. Mr. Rodriguez had garnered only 22 percent of the vote in the Nov. 7 election. But he may have benefited in the runoff against Mr. Bonilla, who had received just shy of the required 50 percent in November, by campaigning on the idea that if elected, he would be joining the new Democratic majority in the House. (The Democrats picked up 30 seats, including the 23rd District on Tuesday, for a 233-202 majority, including a few independents usually voting Democratic.)

In addition, the 23rd District was redrawn by federal judges again in August, after the United States Supreme Court found that the 2003 Republican-engineered redistricting had diluted Hispanic voting strength to help Mr. Bonilla and maintain G.O.P strongholds. The court ordered that the district be reconfigured to include 10 percent more Hispanics of voting age, or 100,000 more. The redrawn district increased the percentage of Hispanic-age voters to 61 percent from 51 percent.

The win by Mr. Rodriguez may also have been aided by the Sunday appearance of former President Bill Clinton, and an infusion of nearly $1 million by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that offset Mr. Bonilla's war chest.

In other House races, only Florida's 13th Congressional District still remains a bit uncertain. The Republican, Vern Buchanan, has won with an extremely slim margin of 359 votes, but his opponent, Christine Jennings, has challenged the results and refused to concede.

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