Washington (CNN) - Two Republican sources at Wednesday’s House GOP Conference meeting tell CNN that there was a lot of grumbling about the party’s loss in a special election Tuesday for the vacant House seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district.
Democratic candidate Mark Critz topped Republican Tim Burns by double digits in the battle to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha.
“People should be rumbling – members sure were,” said one of the sources.
Both sources, one a Republican lawmaker and one a senior GOP staffer, said National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions took responsibility for the loss and promised to study the results and learn the lessons of the Burns’ defeat.
Both sources said they did not believe there would be an effort to replace Rep. Sessions as chairman of the NRCC, but said it was made clear there is deep dissatisfaction.
The accounts also exposed anew long festering tensions or rivalries among House Minority Leader John Boehner and some of his deputies in the leadership. The two sources, both from the more conservative factions of the House GOP caucus, noted it was the Ohio Republican who tapped Sessions for the NRCC’s top post and said most of the NRCC’s top staff have ties to Boehner.
“In baseball, general managers can only fire so many managers before their own neck is on the line – and Boehner knows that,” was the take of one of the sources, the senior GOP staffer who was at the meeting.
The source also told CNN that the NRCC “has a lot of explaining to do and frankly, needs a proctology exam. People that are paid to win races can’t keep losing them – especially now, in what is supposed to be the most favorable election cycle for Republicans in a generation.”
A senior GOP leadership aide who was present at Wednesday’s meeting said that Boehner, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and GOP Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy all expressed support for Sessions prior to Session’s remarks before the gathering. The two top House Republicans also thanked Tim Burns for the campaign he ran, according to the leadership aide.
A message left with Boehner’s spokesman was not immediately returned.