Republicans match post-WWII record after holding two La. House seats

Republicans matched their party's post-World War II record for most House seats held Saturday night by retaining two Louisiana constituencies in runoff votes.

The GOP holds 246 seats, compared to 188 for Democrats, with one race, in Arizona's 2nd District, still outstanding. The 246 seats match the total the GOP had in 1947-49 when Harry S. Truman occupied the White House.

Republican physician Ralph Abraham won Louisiana’s 5th District congressional seat, defeating Monroe's Democratic Mayor Jamie Mayo. The seat was lost last month by GOP incumbent Rep. Vance McAllister, who was caught up in scandal after a video emerged that showed him kissing a woman who was not his wife.

Republican Party of Louisiana Chairman Roger Villere said Abraham “will be an excellent advocate for northeast Louisiana in Congress and a leader that Republicans can be proud of.”

Mayo, who has been the mayor of Monroe for 13 years, was the most prominent Democrat in last month's nine-candidate open race but a long-shot on Saturday in the runoff between the top-two vote-getters.

Republicans were divided in the Nov. 4 election but united behind Abraham going into the runoff.

In the Pelican State's 6th District congressional race, Republican Garret Graves, who most recently served as GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal's coastal restoration chief, defeated former Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, ending the 87-year-old's hopes of a political comeback after more than eight years in prison.

Villere said Graves ran “a tremendous campaign” and that “Louisiana voters will be well served by Garret and his leadership in Congress.”

In the midterm election rout, House Republicans prevailed on Democratic turf, netting 12 seats and winning in New York, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa. Republican challengers knocked out long-term Democratic incumbents in Georgia and West Virginia, seats that the GOP now could hold for generations as the party maintains its stranglehold on the South.

The GOP had entered the Nov. 4 midterm elections with a 234-201 edge. Democrats had held out hope of minimizing their losses despite Obama's low popularity and historic losses for the party occupying the White House. Democrats did manage to win three Republican-held seats in California, Florida and Nebraska, but Republicans had far greater success around the country.

Obama suffered an ignominious distinction. His party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 12 more this year, and he is now the two-term president with the most midterm defeats, edging past Truman's 74.

There's still an automatic recount in a Democratic-held district in the Tucson, Arizona-area. Rep. Ron Barber trails Republican challenger Martha McSally by fewer than 200 voters.

If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover's administration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.