Van Hollen blames joblessness, outside spending for Dem losses

The head of House Democrats' campaign effort blamed a "perfect political storm" for spurring the party's loss of 60 or more seats in the chamber.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), blamed high unemployment numbers and spending on elections by outside groups for the party's historic losses Tuesday.

“Last night’s election was a perfect political storm born out of the understandable frustration felt by the American people in response to high unemployment caused by the worst financial crash since the Great Depression," Van Hollen said in a statement. "The record amount of secret money spent by right-wing outside groups turned this political storm into a category 3 political hurricane."

Van Hollen had chaired the DCCC for a second term this cycle after having piloted Democrats to a 21-seat gain in 2008. House leaders had asked the Maryland lawmaker to stick around the committee for a second term to help protect the House majority.

Ultimately, Van Hollen was given the difficult task of putting the best possible spin on a dismal situation for Democrats. As late as Tuesday evening, when indications started to point toward massive GOP wins, Van Hollen said it was premature for news organizations to project Republicans would win control of the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) saved words of praise for Van Hollen's efforts on behalf of the party despite the drubbing Democrats received.

“Our members and candidates ran remarkable campaigns led by the superb leadership of DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen," she said.