May 20th, 2010
03:40 PM ET
5 years ago

House Dem. campaigner: GOP election strategy 'hit a brick wall'

 DCCC Chair Rep. Chris Van Hollen talks to reporters about Dem. win in Pennsylvania special election.
DCCC Chair Rep. Chris Van Hollen talks to reporters about Dem. win in Pennsylvania special election.

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."


Filed under: 2010 • Chris Van Hollen • DCCC • Mark Critz • Pennsylvania
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Djinn

    This and the primary loss of Rand Paul will signal the end of any GOP/Tea party move to regain congress. Now what is needed is to lose the corporate democrats.

    May 20, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. sssimon

    Do the loathsome teabaggers realize that the objective of both the Republican Party and there founder Ron Paul and his son (and their new hero) Rand Paul is to end their social security and medicaid?

    May 20, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Bill

    Van Hollen is right. And while the tea bag people and GOP were crowing on Teusday night about taking America back (from what I do not know), they failed to mention that they did not win any race against a democrat. This was a telling win for the dems. and the GOP will be in for big surprises in the fall. Go tea bag party!

    May 20, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. Ben

    Van Hollen needs to put the crack pipe down. One loss in a district that's 2-1 Democrat and that's full of union people and somehow the GOP strategy has hit a brick wall? What is he smoking? Sounds like he's whistling past the graveyard to me.

    May 20, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. Paul from Phoenix

    I love how everyone is talking about this district being a dem win. Here is a news flash:

    THE DEM RAN AS A REPUBLICAN!!!! Yup, he ran as a candidate opposed to the health care bill, raising taxes, and didn't want any member of the Obama administration to campaign with him.

    He used the GOP strategy, and he won. How is this a win for the dems?

    May 20, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Republicans have disappointed too many of us by voting NO all the time and basically stalling a lot that is necessary to keep our country running.

    We WILL get rid of as many obstructionists and liars (like Virgnia Voxx – i.e., death panels/pull the plug on granny) as we can. Also set to go asap are lock-step non-productives (Burr, NC).

    May 20, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    Hey I have news for the Democrats and the Republicans.
    The American people could care less about your political parties!
    What we want is true representation of the voters and "We the People".
    We do not want representatives of a political party we want someone who wants to represent us the people living in the voter district or state in the case of a senator. So stop pointing fingers back and forth at each other and come together for all Americans before the party's ideals. I know our President wants to achieve this goal how about helping? If not we are going to vote you out! No matter what party you belong to.

    May 20, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It sure did it a brick wall. The republican party will soon be an ancient myth. They have not one special election. That's a sign of things to come. The silent majority is paying attention to what's going on in Washington and there are going to be alot of disappointed republicans come 11/5/10 when they're in the unemployment line.

    May 20, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. SocialismBad

    Wait a minute... Critz (the winning "DemocRAT") run on a platform of being against the Obamacare, voted against cap and trade, as well as other Obama initiatives"!

    These are from his website... SURE SOUNDS LIKE A REPUBLICAN TO ME!!! Of course, once Nancy Pelosi labotomizes him, he'll vote like the rest of the DemocRATic droids.

    =====================================================

    Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Mark understands that the basic rights guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment should not be infringed upon with unnecessary restrictions. Mark believes that sportsmen, hunters, and citizens concerned for their personal safety are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. In Congress, Mark will oppose any effort to weaken this right guaranteed to us in the Constitution.

    Mark is pro-life and opposes taxpayer funding of abortion. In Congress, Mark will fight for policies that stand up for the sanctity of life.

    Mark knows that families have to live within their means, and he thinks it’s time that Congress starts doing the same. That’s why he is committed to reducing the deficit and thinks Congress should start by tightening its own belt. Mark will fight to constrain government spending by working to eliminate wasteful programs, and as a first step, Mark supports reducing the salaries and office budgets for members of Congress by 5 percent next year.

    Mark believes that we must develop a long term strategy that moves us to energy independence and creates jobs here in Pennsylvania.

    Mark is committed to protecting the coal industry and the Western Pennsylvania jobs that go with it, and as energy prices continue to rise, believes that we must also have an immediate strategy that includes expanding domestic drilling.

    Mark Critz opposes so called "Cap and Trade" legislation, because it would have a negative impact on jobs and working families here in Western Pennsylvania.

    Western Pennsylvania can be a leader in clean coal technology as well as alternative energy jobs. Mark believes that we need to invest in these kinds of technologies that will create jobs and protect our national security interests, and in Congress that will be one of his top priorities.

    May 20, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    The only revolution started in November 2006, November 2008 and will continue November 2010!!

    When a black man became president the racist would eventually come out and revolt...oh wait..that is the Tea Party.

    There are 65,000 registered tea partiers and over 110 million people voted in the last election. Do the math...Why are these Tea Bagger getting any attention?!

    May 20, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. Sgt. USMC

    I consider(ed) myself an independent not to long ago. I defended bush and clinton for many years because I never wanted to be part any one party or ideology. I believed a President is their for a reason and it's not because he is stupid. However, lately, I find myself a little happier hearing news like this. Could it be that the right has gone too far right for me to follow or even pay attention to? I know it's not the democrat charisma because they sure don't have any right now. I guess it has to do with the fact that one side is a little less steep than the other. If I go left I can always find myself back to the middle if need be. But, if I go right, there is too much chance of falling off. Weird how things turn out.

    May 20, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Shucks

    Pennsylvania, unlike Kentucky knows when a right wing nutjob is running for office. Ask Rick Santorum. Pennsylvania voted him out like a bad virus.

    May 20, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Brandon

    The Tea Party and the GOP scare me. I think America is going back to the 1950s. Living in a Nazi state. I consider myself an Independent voter , but will be voting all Democrats this year.

    May 20, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Michael

    The old system (institutionalized abuse of the majority by an all-powerful caste of financial elite, allowing the working class to retain just enough of their production to keep them alive and working) is dying. The future is an equitable share of the profits for all who work in the system.

    May 20, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Dar

    The Dems sound just like the Rebub's when thet win something.
    The other party is done, roll over play dead blah blah blah
    The real winners will be in Novenmber, then they can jump up and down and see who they can corrupt better.

    May 20, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. REG in AZ

    Some say to stop bashing Bush-Cheney but while the bashing may not be important the remembering is. The Bush-Cheney administration was literally the personification of the greed, self-indulgence, gross dishonesty and 'more for me' mentality that has brought this country to its knees. They aggressively and arrogantly used their offices and America's resources for a private agenda to benefit the few (90%) only apathy, the costs and an abundance of subterfuge to rationalize, disguise and to manipulate. To forget or not understand all of that is to just ask for 'more of the same'.

    The Democrats are far from perfect and the people need to diligently hold them accountable to improve and to honestly and conscientiously do what is best for this country. But the problems aren't because the Democrats are spending; rather the Democrats are advocating spending because of the problems they inherited. With the Republicans the need is to recognize that they have completely digressed to being 'puppets' for Special Interests and the powerful, influential and extremely wealthy few who 'pull their strings'. This is not only obvious from the Bush-Cheney years but also in their continually offering nothing for the people, always being focused on benefit for the select few, in their constantly obstructing/blocking everything, in their coercing and intimidating their own people, squelching individual consciences, to maintain firm unity and in their dishonesty with exaggerated scare tactics (re Taxes) and aggressive appeals to self-interests (re big government) aimed to excite, manipulate, control and use public opinion. Some try to rationalize that they are the party representing the 'constitution' but the constitution first and foremost is "for the people", which they literally fail to be.

    All of it can be seen in the bazaar, extreme and obnoxious antics of those who speak for them: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Michael Steele, Bill O'Rielly; and in the narrow and controlled focus of their representatives: Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Jon Kyl, John McCain, Mitt Romney,,, all constantly focused on pushing through the interests of the few without regard for the costs to the many. Their concentration is solely on their political ambitions at all costs and thereby on benefit for those who overtly and covertly support them, provide substantial contributions and even offer them after-office compensation. The control can easily be seen in who always gains (while costing everyone else): Halliburton, oil companies, defense contractors, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, Wall Street, banks and so on with coordination probably provided by the likes of the Carlyle Group and other special interests, ultra-conservative groups. We should really want the Republicans to return to being the 'Grand Ole Party' honestly, conscientiously and responsibly concerned for the people, with moderately conservative ideals, and the only way to ever accomplish that is to firmly reject what they have become and the belligerent manipulations they attempt.

    The only likelihood of ever really straightening it all out, with Democrats as well as Republicans, is to have real political reform by taking money, and then the control by the money people, out of politics. Only then would we gain real quality in competition, candidates, focus and performance. Term limits might help as could stricter enforcement of stronger ethics rules. Good luck on all of that as it will be aggressively fought by those with the power.

    May 20, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Eric

    Wha??? Nice spinning, Chris.

    I realize you're not too bright... so I'll write in small words, so as to avoid confusing you.

    Penn held a primary for a DEM senate seat on Tuesday. A senate primary is a big deal.

    Penn is heavily dem. The PA-12 district is even more heavily, heavily dem: 2-to-1 Dem to Rep.

    Democrats were out en mass for THEIR own senate primary... the tiny election for the open PA-12 house seat was a small part of a very big Democrat election day.

    Oddly enough, the conservative, pro-gun, pro-life, anti-Obamacare candidate actually won the election... which should p!$$-off dems, given this candate was the Dem, not the Rep.

    If the Dem holds this seat beyond November when the anti-liberal tsunami hits DC will be another story.

    May 20, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Coffee Has More Substance Than Tea

    Rest assured ... had the Republican won, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck ALL would have trumpeted it as evidence of the power of the TEA BAGGer's.

    Now all we hear in that district is the chirping of crickets ........

    May 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    Van Hollen is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman. What would you expect him to say? He's trying to come up with a cheerleading strategy for a losing team. Good luck with that.

    May 20, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Not Republican

    Paul needs the 'Tea Party' (aka Biggots United) vote, so he's simply trying to show that underneathe it all, he too is a biggot, wink, wink.

    May 20, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. ZipinSC

    I agree. Many of the soothsayers who predict a conservative landslide in November may be deeply disappointed. At the start of the tea parties, I was wondering just how much influence they would have. Despite a huge push from Fox News and ample coverage by CNN, I now believe most people have more common sense than to blindly believe some of the nonsense that comes from these groups.

    May 20, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. Independent One

    IF hard to vote for a GOP Canidate when all they stand for is NO

    May 20, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    And the GOP, not being complete idiots, will certainly revise their campaign strategies to acknowledge the existence of that brick wall.

    The wall is this: The GOP leadership thinks, or thought until yesterday, that thumping bibles was the most import thing they had to sell. But there are a lot of Americans who, scared of the Dems and their tax-raids on everyone's wallets, care less now about the bible-thumping, and care a lot more about protecting their financial futures. They're the ones who, yesterday, gave the GOP their warning: Protect my wallet, or I'm going to vote for someone who will. Then, if you must, get back to your bible-thumping.

    May 20, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Victim of GOP Taliban

    What happened all the Republicans were arrogantly promising victory and that this year will be like 1994? Getting too pompous because Scott Brown won MA? Brown votes more often with the Democrats than his own party.

    May 20, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. JOhn

    We are still dealing everyday with a new disaster from the republican led government. The people threw them out for a good reason. What has changed? Same failed policies, same bitter dishonesty, same lack of concern for the middle class, same lack of ideas, same party before country attitude, etc...... There is just no reason to want more of what the republican's bring.

    May 20, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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