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GOP cites gridlock to explain House gains

Gephardt considers his future

CNN projected that Republican Bill Janklow will defeat Democrat Stephanie Herseth for South Dakota's at-large House seat.
CNN projected that Republican Bill Janklow will defeat Democrat Stephanie Herseth for South Dakota's at-large House seat.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican leaders said Wednesday their gains in the House of Representatives on Election Day reflected voter frustration with partisan bickering and a desire for the GOP to set the agenda.

"I think people are tired of all the gridlock they see in Congress," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois.

The Republican Party built on its majority in the House of Representatives, marking only the second time since 1934 that a sitting president's party didn't lose House seats in a midterm ballot -- the first time for a Republican president since 1902.

Republicans won at least 226 seats, up at least three from the 223 they had going into the election. Several races were still undecided. In the 435-member House, 218 seats are needed for control.

Going into this midterm election, the House was made up of 223 Republicans, 208 Democrats and one independent, with three vacancies.

"It is significant when you have a president at a 65 percent rating. That is unusual. I think some of it is related to 9/11 and the people's reactions," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri.

Gephardt decided Wednesday he will not seek another term as House Democratic leader, two Democrats close to Gephardt told CNN.

An announcement is planned for Thursday morning -- a dramatic development that reinforces the turmoil within the Democratic Party in the wake of the historic Republican midterm election gains.

Gephardt, 61, huddled with his wife, Jane, and consulted top advisers throughout the day. By late Wednesday, the 13-term congressman was calling close colleagues to inform them of his decision, sources said.

Gephardt was said to be irritated that a few House Democrats publicly called for him to step aside, but top aides insisted in the end those critics were not a major factor in his decision.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic whip, and Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost, of Texas, are considered likely challengers for the minority leader post if Gephardt bows out. It's not clear if either of them or someone else would challenge Gephardt if he decides to seek re-election.

Here's a look at the results of some races:

•In South Dakota, Republican Bill Janklow -- who couldn't run for re-election as governor because of term limits -- defeated Democrat Stephanie Herseth, granddaughter of a former governor, for that state's at-large House seat. (Hot race in South Dakota)

•In Maryland, Democrat C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger defeated Republican Helen Delich Bentley for Maryland's 2nd Congressional District seat. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican who successfully ran for governor in Maryland. (Governors' races)

•Rep. Tim Holden, a Pennsylvania Democrat, defeated Republican Rep. George Gekas for the 17th Congressional District. The two were pitted against one another as a result of redistricting. (Hot race in Pennsylvania)

CNN projects that Republican Scott Garrett defeated Democrat Anne Sumers to win New Jersey's District 5 House seat.
CNN projects that Republican Scott Garrett defeated Democrat Anne Sumers to win New Jersey's District 5 House seat.

•Democrat Chris Van Hollen defeated Maryland's incumbent Rep. Connie Morella, a Republican, in the race for the state's 8th District House seat. (Hot race in Maryland)

•Republican Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi defeated Democratic Rep. Ronnie Shows to win the 3rd District House seat. The two were pitted against each other because of redistricting. (Hot race in Mississippi)

•Republican Jeb Bradley defeated Democrat Martha Fuller Clark for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District seat. Rep. John Sununu did not seek the post in order to run for the U.S. Senate, a race he won. (Hot race in New Hampshire)

•Rep. John Linder, a Georgia Republican, defeated Democrat Michael Berlon. Linder defeated conservative Republican Rep. Bob Barr in the primary after redistricting pitted them against each other. (Hot race in Georgia)

•Democrat Tim Ryan won the race for Ohio's 17th District House seat, defeating Republican Ann Womer-Benjamin and Jim Traficant, who ran from prison as an Independent. (Hot race in Ohio)

•Republican Chris Chocola defeated Democrat Jill Long Thompson to win Illinois' 2nd Congressional District seat. The seat is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Tim Roemer, who abruptly decided to retire last year. President Bush made several trips to Indiana in support of Chocola's bid. (Hot race in Indiana)

•Republican Katherine Harris was the winner of Florida's 13th Congressional District also sought by Democrat Jan Schneider. Harris is remembered by many as the state's controversial secretary of state during the 2000 election troubles there. (Hot race in Florida)

•Republican incumbent Anne Northup held onto Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District seat. (Hot race in Kentucky)

--CNN Capitol Hill Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report

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