Giddy Republicans itching to take back the House this fall should be warned by the Democratic win in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional district, DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen said today.
“The hype about this being another 1994 hit the brick wall,” Van Hollen (D-MD) said at a briefing with reporters today at the DNC headquarters. His argument is that the Republicans poured massive cash into the closely divided district, and lost by a wide margin despite the big effort. What’s more, the GOP had boasted this would be an easy district to win and consultants were telling reporters as late as poll closing time Tuesday they thought they’d scored a victory.
“They went all in on this race … they did a test run of their strategy and it crashed and failed,” Van Hollen said. He admitted it remains a tough political year for the majority party, and declined to speculate just how many seats the Democrats would lose in November. But he said the GOP won’t win back the House in part because their candidates are being pushed to the extreme right by the tea party movement.In PA-12, the Republicans attempted to tie Democrat Mark Critz with unpopular President Obama, even though he ran against Obama’s signature health care reform law. Van Hollen said each candidate was free to run their campaign at their own choosing, even if that goes against the party’s standard pro health care reform talking points.
However, a Democrat close to the White House told me this week that it will be very difficult for Obama to help or campaign for Democrats who didn’t back his agenda. The Democrat said those members, such as Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) are vulnerable this fall.
“If we lose people, it will be those who voted against the president. There is no way for us to get our voters excited about these people,” the Democrat said.
During the briefing, Van Hollen said voters can expect Democratic candidates to highlight GOP hypocrisy for opposing the stimulus bill but campaigning on its effects back home. “We think voters deserve to have that information,” he said.