California House races hang in balance amid slow vote count

State returns on Wednesday showed Rohrabacher, a 13-term congressman in coastal Orange County in Southern California, trailing his Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, center. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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California House races hang in balance amid slow vote count

  • In Orange County alone, well over 400,0000 votes remained left to be counted
  • Democrats have achieved a net gain of 32 House seats nationwide

LOS ANGELES: California’s pro-Russia congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, is one of four Republican incumbents in the state whose seats are still in danger of falling to Democratic opponents in the US House of Representatives as America’s most populous state slowly counts its votes.
The outcome of those races — and how much they add to the Democrats’ majority in the newly constituted House — may be uncertain for weeks to come because of mail-in and provisional balloting systems that California introduced in recent years to boost voter participation.
According to the latest projections by media outlets and data provider DDHQ, Democrats have achieved a net gain of 32 House seats nationwide.
California election results tallied as of Wednesday do not account for millions of outstanding ballots still to be processed statewide. Many were mailed by voters to local registrar offices by Tuesday’s deadline but have yet to be delivered.
In Orange County alone, well over 400,0000 votes remained left to be counted, more than half of them mail-in ballots, according to data provided by the county registrar’s office on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of provisional ballots for voters who waited until election day to register also are outstanding.
State returns on Wednesday showed Rohrabacher, a 13-term congressman in coastal Orange County in Southern California, trailing his Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, a real estate entrepreneur and former Republican, by fewer than 3,000 votes — or 49.3 percent to 50.7 percent.
Rouda, whose lead improved slightly on Thursday to 51 percent, versus 49 percent for Rohracher, estimated that 70,000 ballots remained to be counted in the district.
Rouda said he was “cautiously optimistic” that “our lead will hold and in all likelihood will increase” when all votes are in, but said he would hold off on any announcements for at least several days.
The Rohrabacher campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Rohrabacher-Rouda race has stood out nationally in part because of the incumbent’s reputation for unabashedly pro-Russian views, widely seen as once putting him on a short-list for consideration as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state.
Rohrabacher’s seat is one of several held by a Republican in a California district that supported Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 presidential election or was otherwise seen as vulnerable to flipping Democrat.
That race and three others in the state where Democrats were seeking to pick up a Republican seat were either still in play or, as was the cases in two districts, leaning so heavily toward Democrats that they had claimed victory.
However, Republican incumbents appeared to have garnered comfortable leads in at least three other House races in Southern California that Democrats had viewed as up for grabs.
Among them was Duncan Hunter, who has pleaded not guilty to felony corruption charges but managed to defeat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration aide of Mexican and Palestinian heritage.
No races will be certified for at least a month, the time election officials are given to complete their “official canvass” of all votes. They have until Dec. 7 to report final results to the California secretary of state, who then will have another week to officially declare winners. 


Woman shot dead in N.Ireland in ‘terrorist incident’

Updated 17 min 38 sec ago
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Woman shot dead in N.Ireland in ‘terrorist incident’

  • A car-bombing and the hijacking of two vans in Londonderry earlier this year were blamed on a dissident paramilitary group
  • A 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries

LONDON: A woman has been shot dead during riots in the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland and the killing is being treated as a terrorist incident, police said Friday.
Images posted on social media showed a car and van ablaze and hooded individuals throwing petrol bombs and fireworks at police vehicles.
It was not immediately clear who the woman was or who shot her.
“Sadly I can confirm that following shots being fired tonight in Creggan, a 29-year-old woman has been killed,” Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement on Twitter.
“We are treating this as a terrorist incident and we have launched a murder enquiry.”
The violence came in the run-up to the Easter weekend, when Republicans opposed to British presence in Northern Ireland mark the anniversary of a 1916 uprising against British rule.
A car-bombing and the hijacking of two vans in Londonderry (also known as Derry) earlier this year were blamed on a dissident paramilitary group.
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Union Party, which is in favor of Britain’s presence in Northern Ireland, described the death as “heartbreaking news.”
“A senseless act. A family has been torn apart. Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019. No one wants to go back,” she wrote on Twitter.
A 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries, as well as British armed forces, in a period known as “the Troubles.”
Some 3,500 people were killed in the conflict — many at the hands of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Police have blamed a group called the New IRA for the flare-up in violence in recent months.
Some have expressed fears that recent attacks could be a sign that paramilitaries are seeking to exploit the current political turbulence over Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland caused by Brexit.
Michelle O’Neill, the deputy leader of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, condemned those responsible for the killing.
“My heart goes out to the family of the young woman shot dead by so-called dissidents,” she wrote on Twitter.
“This was an attack on the community, an attack on the peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement,” she added, while calling for calm.
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