Democrats win 18 GOP-held districts in race for House control

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— Democrats won 18 Republican-held districts in nearly every region of the country to move within striking distance of retaking control of the House on Tuesday as voters demonstrated their disenchantment with a war, a president and scandals on Capitol Hill.

With these victories, if the minority Democrats hold all of their seats, they would end 12 years of GOP rule, rise to power and clear the way for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to become the country's first female speaker.

"We are on the brink of a great Democratic victory," the California Democrat predicted.

"It's been kind of rough out there," conceded House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who won a 11th term.

The magic number for control was 218. Democrats had won 174 seats and were leading another 41. Republicans won 138 and were leading in 48.

Three GOP congressmen lost in Indiana, two in New Hampshire, one in North Carolina, and a Democrat won an open seat in Arizona.

Ethics woes were clearly taking their toll on the GOP.

Republicans surrendered the Ohio seat once held by Bob Ney, who resigned after pleading guilty in a lobbying scandal, and the Florida seat of Mark Foley, who stepped down after the disclosure that he sent sexually explicit messages to male congressional pages.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats defeated Curt Weldon in the fallout from a federal corruption investigation and Don Sherwood who admitted to a long-term affair with a much younger woman who says he choked her.

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