Democrats are not likely to retake Congress in 2018 and need to prepare instead for a long-term fight against a Republican government, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday.

"It ain't gonna happen in 2018," Emanuel said during a Q&A session at Stanford's Graduate School of Business in California. "Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul."

The former Obama White House chief of staff also reiterated a call for the Democratic Party to remain moderate, despite broad sentiment within the party to turn to more progressive candidates.

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“If you’re running in a Republican district, you got to get at somebody who can win in a Republican district,” Emanuel said. “Winning is everything. You don’t win, you can’t make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle. Sometimes you just got to win.”

Emanuel has been criticized from the left frequently during his mayoral term on issues like police brutality and clashes with teachers. 

Rather than focus on ideological purity, Emanuel said that Democrats have to create a “farm team” of veterans, business leaders and former football players to run in Republican-leaning congressional districts, and make economics the focus of campaigns over cultural issues.

The Chicago mayor slammed his own party for infighting about its own ideological direction, and urged Democrats to unite against the Republicans. 

“[The Republicans] are about to do something on the tax code, the regulatory environment and things that are more threatening than what a fellow Democrat might slightly disagree with you on,” he said. “Stop it. We’re not strong enough to do that.”