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Republicans retain 2 vacant house seats

The GOP maintained control of both House seats up for grabs in special elections Tuesday in Ohio and Virginia, disappointing Democrats who had hoped to extend their gains.
Congressional Elections
Republican State Rep. Bob Latta  triumphed over Democrat Robin Weirauch in a special election Dec. 11 to fill Ohio's 5th Congressional District seat of the late U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor.Jay Laprete / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Republicans maintained control of both congressional seats that were up for grabs in special elections Tuesday in Ohio and Virginia, disappointing Democrats who had hoped to extend their gains in the House.

In Ohio, a state representative defeated a Democrat making her third run for the seat. And in Virginia, a first-term state legislator easily won.

Both elections were to fill seats left vacant by deaths. Jo Ann Davis, who had represented a southeastern Virginia district for seven years, died of breast cancer in October. Rep. Paul Gillmor, first elected in a northwest Ohio district in 1988, died in a fall in September.

The winners of both races will complete the terms of Gillmor and Davis.

Democrats, who won control of the House last year 233-202, had hoped to benefit from the low turnout typical of special elections.

GOP streak continues
Republicans have held Ohio's 5th District since the 1930s. At times, Democrats have all but conceded the seat by spending little money and trotting out candidates with limited political experience.

Bob Latta, a Republican state representative, had 57 percent of the vote and Democrat Robin Weirauch had 43 percent with 100 percent of the vote counted.

"I hope to continue representing this district in the same honor and integrity of Paul Gillmor and my father before him," Latta said in a statement.

Latta ran for Congress in 1988, trying to replace his father, Delbert Latta, who held the seat for 30 years. But he lost in the GOP primary to Gillmor by 27 votes.

Weirauch, 50, was on her third run for the seat. Last year she received more votes - 43 percent - than any other Democrat in the district's history.

Low turnout in Virginia
In Virginia, Rob Wittman, a first-term Republican state legislator, got about 61 percent of the vote over Democrat Philip Forgit's nearly 37 percent, with 100 percent of votes counted. Only about 15 percent of registered voters turned out.

Wittman had a nearly 4-to-1 fundraising advantage and the benefit of being a Republican in a district where President Bush got 60 percent of the vote in 2004.

Forgit, a teacher, is a decorated military veteran in a district that includes the Quantico Marine base, the Army's Fort A.P. Hill and a Navy weapons testing center. Forgit went to Iraq with his Naval Reserve unit, returning in 2006.