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For a party in freefall the last two decades, California Republicans learned that it's possible to plunge even further.

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Democratic Rep.-elect Katie Porter is congratulated by volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Irvine.
Democratic Rep.-elect Katie Porter is congratulated by volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Irvine. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Congresswoman-elect Katie Porter said she plans to support Rep. Nancy Pelosi's bid for speaker of the House and will make campaign finance reform her top priority when she enters the chamber in January.

“I'm going to continue to have conversations, but so far I feel like Leader Pelosi is definitely making the things that were a priority to the families that elected me her priorities, including announcing her support for campaign finance reform and anti-corruption as HR1," Porter said in her first public appearance since being declared the winner in California’s 45th Congressional District on Thursday evening. 

“It means a lot to me that she is a Californian. She understands our state,” Porter added. “When we talk about environmental protections, this is a person who understands as a Californian how fragile our environment is and what's at risk in things like drilling off our coasts."

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President Trump and Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Andrew Wheeler
President Trump and Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Andrew Wheeler (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA / Shutterstock)

President Trump says he will name the Environmental Protection Agency's acting head, Andrew Wheeler, to the post permanently.

Trump made the announcement almost in passing Friday at a White House ceremony for Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees.

The president singled out Wheeler in the audience at the ceremony, adding Wheeler "is going to be made permanent" at EPA.

Employees look through damaged ballots during a recount Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Employees look through damaged ballots during a recount Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Florida’s acrimonious battle for the U.S. Senate headed Thursday to a legally required hand recount after an initial review by ballot-counting machines showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson separated by less than 13,000 votes.

But the highly watched contest for governor between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum appeared to be over, with a machine recount showing DeSantis with a large enough advantage over Gillum to avoid a hand recount in that race.

Gillum, who conceded the contest on election night only to retract his concession later, said in a statement that “it is not over until every legally casted vote is counted.”

Congressional candidate Gil Cisneros
Congressional candidate Gil Cisneros (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Democrat Gil Cisneros pulled ahead of Republican Young Kim in one of California’s undecided congressional races Thursday, an ominous sign for a GOP already reeling from its loss of four House seats in the state.

In updated vote counts released by the registrars for Orange and San Bernardino counties, Kim fell 941 votes behind Cisneros in the contest to succeed Republican Rep. Ed Royce in California’s 39th Congressional District. The 39th straddles Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

In another unresolved House race, Democrat Katie Porter pulled further ahead of Republican incumbent Mimi Walters in the 45th District, which includes Mission Viejo, Tustin, Irvine, Rancho Santa Margarita and Laguna Hills.

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A Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy walks past boxes of ballots before a recount on Nov. 15 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy walks past boxes of ballots before a recount on Nov. 15 in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee)

Unofficial Florida election results show that the governor's race seems to be settled after a machine recount but the U.S. Senate race is likely headed to a hand recount.

Republican Ron DeSantis is virtually assured of winning the nationally watched governor's race over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Florida finished a machine recount Thursday that showed Gillum without enough votes to force a manual recount.

Unofficial results posted on a state website show the margin between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott is still thin enough to trigger a second review. State law requires a hand recount of races with a margin of 0.25 percentage point or less.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference in Washington on Nov. 14.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference in Washington on Nov. 14. (Susan Walsh)

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi insisted Thursday that she has the votes to become the chamber's speaker despite solid opposition from more than a dozen Democrats who want fresh leadership when the party takes control next year.

"I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House," the San Francisco lawmaker told reporters. "I happen to think at this point, I'm the best person for that."

A vote within the Democratic caucus is scheduled for Nov. 28. The full House votes on Jan. 3 to elect a new speaker.

Rep. Jeff Denham
Rep. Jeff Denham (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Republican Rep. Jeff Denham has conceded to Democrat Josh Harder in the race to represent California’s 10th Congressional District in the San Joaquin Valley.

"It has been an absolute honor to serve our community and represent the Central Valley in Congress over the past eight years," the 51-year-old congressman said. "The enormity of the responsibility was never lost on me. My wife Sonia and I look forward to starting the next chapter of our lives."

Harder said he had spoken with Denham and the two were committed to a productive transition.

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  • Congress
  • Midterm Election
Rep. Mimi Walters thanks all of her supporters as she watches election results in Irvine on Nov. 7, 2018.
Rep. Mimi Walters thanks all of her supporters as she watches election results in Irvine on Nov. 7, 2018. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Democrat Katie Porter opened a 3,797-vote lead Wednesday over Republican Rep. Mimi Walters in Orange County’s 45th Congressional District.

In the neighboring 39th, Democrat Gil Cisneros has nearly tied the race against Republican Young Kim. Cisneros now trails Kim by a razor-thin margin of 122 votes.

The 39th District straddles Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties; Wednesday’s updated ballot counts came from the latter two.

  • White House
First Lady Melania Trump.
First Lady Melania Trump. (Alain Jocard / AFP-Getty Images)

Deputy national security advisor Mira Ricardel is leaving the White House, one day after First Lady Melania Trump's office issued an extraordinary statement calling for her dismissal.

No replacement was named. Aides said Ricardel clashed with the first lady's staff over her visit to Africa last month. Yet it is highly unusual for a first lady or her office to weigh in on personnel matters, especially the president's national security staff.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Ricardel would have a new role in the administration.