GOP Gains House, Seating New Black Members

Representatives-elect Allen West and Tim Scott
Representatives-elect Allen West and Tim Scott

Despite efforts by President Barack Obama and the Democrats to rally their base at the eleventh hour, voter anger about the shabby state of the economy swept through Congress on Tuesday, leaving in its wake a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.


As of 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, CNN was predicting that the GOP would gain at least 52 seats in the 435-member House. Well-tanned Ohioan John Boehner is likely to be the next House speaker. With the Democratic majority vaporized, Obama will likely face a tougher road ahead for his policy agenda. He can only hope that House Republicans, knowing that voters will hold them more accountable now that they are in control, will lose their taste for obstructionism.

Tim Scott's win against Democrat Ben Frasier in South Carolina, and Tea Party darling Allen West's victory over Democratic incumbent Ron Klein in Florida, means there will be at least two black Republicans in the House — the first ones since 2003, when Oklahoma's J.C. Watts retired. It could also make them the first Republican members of the Congressional Black Caucus since Rep. Gary Franks of Connecticut retired in 1997, if they are so inclined.

West has made it clear that he intends to seek membership in the caucus. Back in September, Scott told The Root that he hadn't decided whether he wanted to join. Democratic Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) recently said that the CBC would welcome any Republicans who wanted to join its fold.

Meanwhile, several prominent black Democrats easily held on to their seats. Even with an ethics violations trial hanging over his head, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) brushed off his black Republican challenger, Michel Faulkner. Despite ties to the corruption case of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and admitted marital infidelity, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) rebuffed an attempt by black Republican challenger Isaac Hayes (no, not the singer) to unseat him. Meanwhile, Clyburn in South Carolina kept his seat against Republican Jim Pratt.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon is deputy editor of The Root.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.