How Many Seats Does The GOP Need?
We all know 62 is the magic number necessary to control the House of Representatives. Republicans need a net gain of eight seats to reach that mark for the first time since Reconstruction. But what if they get four or six or seven?
I still think an eight seat gain is possible, just like only a two seat gain is still possible. Translation: I don’t have a good read on how these toss-ups we’ve been focusing on will end up. This will be what we’re paying attention to a week from today. (And some races in the Senate as well).
Last time around, conservative (then) Democrat Jeff Smith ended up with 60 votes when he ran for Speaker, 13 from fellow Democrats. Seven of the Democrats are now Republicans: Sid Bondurant, Scott Bounds, Billy Nicholson, Russ Nowell, Margaret Rogers, Bobby Shows, and Smith. Bondurant and Nowell are both locked in tight re-election contests. Three are not running for re-election: Jack Gadd, Deryk Parker, and Mary Ann Stevens. Stevens will be replaced by Democrat Jason White while the other two seats are still in the air. And two are unopposed: Chuck Espy and Robert Johnson. I don’t see how Espy or Johnson could vote for a Republican. So among those 12, they are either Republicans, retiring, or not going to vote for a Republican. The only other member of this group is Randall Patterson. He has a re-election contest next week, but should be the favorite.
But I expect a more traditional battle for the next Speaker. Republicans are certainly going to nominate a candidate this time, and it will be an R vs. D contest when all is said and done.
So what if Republicans end up with, say, 58 seats? Four shy of a majority in that case. Could Bobby Moak or Cecil Brown win at that point? Obviously a lot of wheeling and dealing will have to go on. And all of these scenarios will depend on who exactly comes back next year (not just the actual numbers but the office holders specifically), but I would think Republicans could find two or three votes if they get to that.
Regardless, the voters have their say on November 8, but that is when the battle really begins. The easiest scenario I see is what will happen if Republicans pick up a seat or two, or less, or they win an outright majority. At that point, we know what will happen. The drama will be who the majority party selects. That would certainly be dramatic, but my money is on a repeat of Billy McCoy vs. Jeff Smith.