The election did not change which party controls the White House, the House or the Senate but there are changes in the composition of the 113th Congress that will affect the Cotton Belt and key committees.
As of Nov. 9, Republicans retained control of the House, 234 to 193, with eight races still too close to call. Prior to the election, Republicans held control by 240-190, and there were five vacancies. Several of the “too close to call” contests are in key cotton districts including the North Carolina 7th District where incumbent Rep. McIntyre (D), a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, leads challenger State Sen. Rouzer (R), former agricultural assistant to Sen. Helms, by fewer than 500 votes. In North Carolina’s 8th District, Republican Hudson defeated incumbent Rep. Kissell (D). In the newly consolidated 3rd district of Louisiana, two incumbent Republican Reps. — Boustany (45 percent) and Landry (30 percent) — will face each other in a runoff. In the 4th District of Arkansas, Republican Cotton was elected to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Rep. Ross (D). In Arizona’s 2nd district, Republican challenger McSally holds a narrow lead over incumbent Rep. Barber (D) who is serving the remainder of former Rep. Giffords (D) term. In California, incumbent Republican Reps. Bono-Mack (District 36) and Lungren (District 7) are trailing in races still too close to call.
There will be a number of new members serving districts with significant cotton industry interests, particularly in North Carolina, Texas, Arizona and California where redistricting, the addition of new seats, retirements, and incumbent losses combined to significantly change the make-up of the delegations.
In Texas, where there was significant redistricting as a result of new districts being added, Rep. Canseco (R) was the only incumbent who failed to gain re-election though two members lost their primary bids. Weber (R) defeated former Rep. Lampson (D) for the District 14 seat vacated by Rep. Paul (R). In California’s 1st District, LaMalfa (R), a rice farmer, was elected to the seat vacated by Rep. Herger (R) while Valadao (R), a dairyman, was elected to a new seat (District 21) in the San Joaquin Valley.
All Cotton Belt Senators who sought re-election won handily including: Feinstein (D-Calif.), Nelson (D-Fla.), Wicker (R-Miss.), McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Corker (R-Tenn.). New Cotton Belt Senators are: Kaine (D-Va.), Flake (R-Ariz.), Cruz (R-Texas) and Heinrich (D-N.M.).
Democrats added to their majority in the Senate (55-45) assuming the two “Independents,” Sanders (Vt.) and King (Maine), caucus with the Democrats. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee will continue to be chaired by Sen. Stabenow (D-Mich.), who won re-election in Michigan and the House Agriculture Committee will continue to be chaired by Rep. Lucas (R-Okla.).
A summary of new House and Senate Members, along with a list of potential chairmen/ranking members of key House and Senate Committees, is at www.cotton.org/issues/2012/upload/12ElectionResults2.pdf. The membership rosters of committees for the 113th Congress will not be final until early 2013.