Washington (CNN) - The lawmaker gunning for Democrats to keep control of the House this fall said that a Republican loss in a Tuesday special election shows that the GOP strategy for taking back the House has "hit a brick wall."
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, spoke to a small group of reporters at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Thursday.
Van Hollen talked about his party's win in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district. The special election was held to fill the remaining term of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha. Democrat Mark Critz, a former Murtha staffer, beat Republican candidate Tim Burns. He was sworn in on Thursday.
The district is considered socially conservative. And some political observers considered it a must-win for Republicans.
Van Hollen said that in the race, voters heard the Republican message, "And they rejected it."
The House Democrats' top campaigner went on to say that the result is a bad forecast for Republicans heading in to the midterm election.
"The hype about them taking back the House hit a brick wall of reality," Van Hollen said."
The DCCC chairman also talked about the overall 2010 election cycle.
Republicans believe the current political environment is favorable to their party. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour recently told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that the environment for Republicans, "is better than it was the first half of April 1994, when we won 54 seats in the House, took control of the House, the Senate, [and] more than 30 governorships."
Van Hollen disagrees.
"People say, 'What's different this time around than in 1994?'" he said. "One of the key differences, very important difference, is that all the polls show that while Democrats in congress are not where we want to be, of course. The perceptions of Republicans in Congress are much worse."
"In 1994 people saw Republicans in Congress as a good and credible alternative. Now they don't," Van Hollen added.
In a statement released Tuesday, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, called the Pennsylvania loss "undoubtedly disappointing" and said the party hopes to learn lessons from it ahead of the midterm elections.
But Sessions added, "The bottom line is that the makeup of the House remains the same and our goal of winning back the majority in November has not changed."