House Republicans’ campaign chief Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversGOP lawmaker adheres to term limit pledge, won't run for reelection Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Republican Mike Carey wins special election for Ohio House seat MORE (R-Ohio) is calling the results of the Pennsylvania special election a "wake-up call" for GOP colleagues who are lagging far behind their Democratic opponents in fundraising.
"This is a wake-up call. If you're getting outraised, this is a wake-up call,” Stivers said Wednesday, according to a source in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans. “Prepare to bear down."
Stivers's stern warning came just hours after Democrats declared victory in a Pennsylvania special election in a district President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE carried by nearly 20 points in 2016.
Stivers noted that Democrat Conor Lamb outspent Republican Rick Saccone "5-to-1" in the district leading up to Tuesday's special election, though GOP outside groups also poured millions of dollars into the race.
In the closed-door meeting, Stivers explained that "candidates matter." Stivers detailed that Lamb "ran as an anti-Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE Republican, outspent Republicans, and that the Republican candidate was weak,” according to a GOP lawmaker who attended the meeting.
A third GOP source at the Capitol Hill Club meeting said Stivers urged colleagues to “define” themselves and their Democratic opponents from the start.
“Not many people knew Saccone was an Air Force vet, had written nine books and had a Ph.D. You can’t tell his story like he can,” the GOP source said. “But you need money to do that, and a candidate’s money goes further” than campaign funds from outside groups.
Lamb and Saccone were in a virtual tie early Wednesday morning, with Lamb leading Saccone by more than 600 votes, though Saccone has not conceded and The Associated Press had not called the race.
Democrats have seized on Tuesday's results in the traditionally red district, saying it points to their party's positive prospects in the fall. Democrats need to net 24 seats to take back control of the House.