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With Hostettler as First Victim, Several GOP Incumbents Struggling

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Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth (D), a winner over incumbent Rep. John Hostettler (R) in Indiana’s 8th district, became the first Democrat to defeat a Republican incumbent in what is beginning to look like a Democratic wave sweeping across several key midwestern House seats.

In Virginia, Sen. George Allen (R) and Democrat Jim Webb were locked in a dead heat, with nearly one-third of precincts reporting. Additional races that could hold the key to who controls the Senate beginning in January had yet to report significant numbers.

Beyond the Republicans’ problems in Kentucky and Indiana House districts — where Reps. Anne Northup and Chris Chocola, respectively — looked in trouble, the GOP also looked on the verge of seeing Rep. Charles Bass (R) lose to Paul Hodes (D) in New Hampshire’s 2nd district. Northup was trailing newspaper publisher John Yarmuth (D) by about 2 points with more than 80 percent of precincts reporting, while Chocola was trailing businessman Joe Donnelly (D).

Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-Ind.) was running about 2 points behind the man he defeated in 2004, ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D).

Northup has won consistently in her Louisville district despite its Democratic lean. If Yarmuth can beat her, it should be a sign that Democrats will have a good night nationwide. The one possible bright spot for House Republicans at present might be found in Florida, where state Rep. Joe Negron — running in the seat vacated amid scandal by former Rep. Mark Foley (R) — was running very close to businessman Tim Mahoney (D) in the 16th district with plenty of precincts left to report.

Businessman Vern Buchanan (R), hoping to retain his seat in Florida’s 13th district, also looked poised to give Republicans a bit of good news, as he was leading banker Christine Jennings (D) in early returns.

Election Day has been marked by a series of allegations from both sides of the aisle claiming shenanigans and illegal activities.

In Colorado, Latinos alleged that they received robo-calls warning they would be arrested if they showed up to vote. In New Jersey, the campaign of state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), who is battling incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D), reported that its headquarters had been vandalized, and even released pictures of the damage.

Scores of additional violations were reported by Democratic and Republican campaigns, with legal action in the affected states and House districts already under way.

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