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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" 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. Mike

    Oh please. This district went 60% Democratic in the last election. No one ever said the Dems would lose EVERY district., just most of them.

    May 20, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. informed voter

    If this country is foolish enough to hand the reins back to the party that nearly drove us off a cliff, then we really need to examine our system of education. But I am an optimist, and I know there are enough informed, educated and open minded voters, that the majority will stay firmly in Democratic territory.

    May 20, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Brian L

    The people have spoken they have rejected the party of NO....

    Sorry couldn't resist after hearing all the Cons spewing Mass and Virginia crap over the results of the 2008 election.

    May 20, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    The people MUST take control away from the Dems, to protect this country.

    May 20, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. ib

    He wishes in his dreams. I hope the democrats loose big time and so do the GOP members that went along with all this out of controll spending. And no it is no longer Bush's fault. It's time to put the blame on spending where it belongs; on messiah Obama's back.

    May 20, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Jim in San Mateo

    The problem with Republicans is that they have lost sight of what it means to do the "people's business" and have only managed to do the party's business, which is to say "No" to anything and everything. Voters want representatives who will work for them and so far the Republicans have shown that they are not willing to do that.

    They have done really, really, really well at being the opposition party. The problem is the opposition parties that just oppose and nothing else, stay in opposition because they have not earned the right to lead the country. The Brits know this first hand.

    To go from the party in opposition to the party in power, you have to demonstrate leadership, promulgate new ideas and connect with a wide variety voters (not just the white and the straight). The Republicans have done none of these things. In fact, the Republicans have not gotten a clue from the formation of the tea partiers. If the people who should support the Republican party don't, how can they hope to win anything?

    If the Republicans stay the course, they will learn a very hard lesson in November. Yes, they will pick up a few seats, but not nearly the numbers they are salivating for.

    May 20, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. dan smith

    Get the religious nutjobs out of the party if you want to win on either a statewide or nationwide level. Missouri has become a mecca of religious nutjobs getting in office and forcing their beleifs down our throats. Just like the Democrats forcing their socialism down our throats. I've been a 3epublican since 1980,but I've come to see a very dangerous movement within the Republican Party that I can no longer support. I invite all Republicans and Democrats that are tired of the two major parties telling us how too live our lives to join the Libertarian Party. The Republicans and Democrats have been a failure scince 1989 it's time for a real change, it's time to get our Constitution back.

    May 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. key

    The GOP run on to many platforms religious,conservative,less government,to many taxes,etc. Non of which they actually stick too. Their is to much hypocrisy.

    May 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. Me

    Interesting that the Democrat who won here backs off-shore drilling, opposes Obamacare, is pro-life, anti-gun control, and said that he wanted to turn "Western Pennsylvania into a new energy hub of the US" with the mining of coal.

    He's a DiNO in the purest sense. The only Dem leaning he has is pro-Union.

    May 20, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. Hammerer

    Wishful thinking!

    May 20, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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