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GOP holds on to Arkansas congressional seat

FORT SMITH, Arkansas (CNN) -- Republican John Boozman defeated state Rep. Mike Hathorn, a Democrat, in Tuesday's special election to fill the Arkansas congressional seat vacated when Asa Hutchinson resigned to join the Bush administration.

With 96 percent of the vote counted, Boozman -- an optometrist -- had won 55 percent of the vote compared to Hathorn's 43 percent, according to the Associated Press.

A swearing-in date has yet to be announced. When he takes office, the lineup in the U.S. House of Representatives will be: 221 Republicans, 211 Democrats, two Independents and one vacancy.

The vacancy resulted from the death this past summer of Rep. Floyd Spence, R-South Carolina. A special election is scheduled for Dec. 18 to fill that seat.

Hutchinson resigned in August to take the reins of the Drug Enforcement Agency, leaving a vacancy in the 3rd Congressional District, which covers northwest Arkansas. The district has been in Republican control since 1967.

Many Democrats had considered Hathorn to be the party's best shot at winning the seat since a young Bill Clinton ran for it in 1974. The future president lost narrowly that year, garnering 48 percent of the vote.

-- CNN Senior Political Researcher Robert Yoon contributed to this report.


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