Hoyer: Seats are ‘in play,’ but Dems will hold House majority


House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) became the latest Democratic leader to voice confidence that the party will hold its majority in the House this fall.

“I don’t think we’re going to lose the House,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly briefing on Tuesday.

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The majority leader was responding to comments made Sunday by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who said there was “no doubt” that enough seats are in play this year for Republicans to win back the House.

“Do I think he’s right in that there are enough seats in play? Probably close,” Hoyer said. But he added that “the fact that they’re in play does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that I think we’re going to lose the House.”

He said voters were understandably angry that the economy has not rebounded as fast as people would like, but that they would have a choice in November between Democrats who have succeeded in improving the economy and Republicans who wrecked it in the first place. “In my view, the focus should be on not going back to the Bush Republican failed policies,” Hoyer said.

Publicly, Democratic leaders have taken Gibbs’s statement in stride, saying it is a part of managing expectations for the November midterm elections.

“I don’t think there’s much likelihood [of Democrats losing the House], but anytime the White House wants to lower expectations, that’s OK with me,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at an event in her home city of San Francisco.

Gibbs’s remarks prompted House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) on Monday to predict that his party would take control of the lower chamber.

But Pelosi was echoing one of her top deputies, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), who said Monday that Gibbs’s comment was part of the Democrats’ messaging this fall, which is to warn voters that the country would be in worse shape with a Republican House. 

“The anticipation is that there would be some losses, but we have absolutely no intention of losing the House,” she said. “We have a case to make to the American people about why we must go and continue to go in a new direction.”

 —Jordan Fabian contributed reporting.