House GOP campaign chairman insists party will win back majority

Greg Nash

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, predicted Tuesday that the GOP will take back the House in November, despite polls and political handicappers suggesting otherwise.

In an interview for The Hill’s Big Questions series on the second day of the Republican National Convention, Emmer said Democrats are going to lose because they have “failed to keep the promises they made to votes in 2018” when they won the House majority.

“They’ve done none of the things that they promised to do — this time, rather than just run on a resume, run on a biography, they have to run on their record,” Emmer told The Hill’s Bob Cusack. “That record is not good and they are going to lose their majority because of it.”

Emmer also dismissed independent handicappers who see the odds of the GOP re-taking the House as a statistical long shot.

Democrats lead Republicans on the generic congressional ballot 48.3 percent to 41 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. The House majority has not flipped during a presidential election year since 1952.

Emmer said pollsters are failing to accurately gauge the sentiments of the country, especially among suburban women, who are seen as a key voting bloc for each party.

He also pointed to California’s 25th District, where Republican Mike Garcia cruised to victory in a May special election after Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) resigned. It marked the first time since 1998 that a Republican reclaimed a Democratic-held House seat in California and took place in a district Democrats had flipped in 2018.

“We have now 43 Democrats sitting in seats that are actually positioned better for our Republican candidates than that one in California 25, and we only need 17 to flip the House, so I’m still very bullish on it,” he said at the event sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, predicted last week that in addition to keeping the House, Democrats would grow their majority in November.

“My prediction as we sit here is we will not only hold on to this Democratic majority, we will grow it,” Bustos said in an interview for The Hill’s Big Questions series on the last day of the Democratic National Convention.

She said Democrats are targeting at least 31 Republican-held seats this year, including long-held GOP seats in states such as Alaska, Indiana and Montana.

Two Republicans on the ballot for November are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Laura Loomer, House candidates in Georgia and Florida, respectively, who both back the QAnon conspiracy theory.

During Tuesday’s interview, Emmer said he had offered congratulations to them on their recent primary victories but refused to say whether he supported their candidacies.

The Minnesota lawmaker demurred when asked whether the NRCC would get involved to support Greene and Loomer, noting instead that Greene is running in a safe Republican district.

“The conversations that we’ve had basically are congratulations and let us know how we can be of assistance,” he said.

Emmer said the NRCC does not expect money from the Republican National Committee (RNC) or Trump campaign.

The Washington Post reported last month that officials from the RNC and Trump campaign have turned down multiple requests by senior House Republicans to support congressional races given their slim chances of retaking the House.

Emmer also weighed in on topics like mail-in ballots, President Trump’s response to the coronavirus, the GOP plan for health care and the party’s standing with suburban women.

  • Emmer said he agreed with Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) that mail-in ballots will work “just fine,” despite Trump’s repeated claims that vote-by-mail opens the door to widespread fraud. Still, Emmer urged vigilance to avoid what he called “irregularities” with mail-in ballots.
  • Emmer cast doubt on polls, some of which were conducted online, showing Democrats leading among suburban women, a key demographic for the November elections. He said many Americans do not admit their true political leaning to pollsters. He argued Republicans are best positioned to rebuild the economy and end “anarchy and the rioting in the streets.”
  • Emmer said the Trump administration has done “unprecedented things” in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected 5.7 million people in America and killed 177,000. He pointed to Trump addressing a ventilator shortage early in the crisis, building up the national stockpile, and promoting vaccine and therapy development.
  • Emmer did not directly answer a question on whether Republicans would release a health care plan, something Trump has consistently promised to do. Emmer said Republicans “have always” had a platform on health care, which is to allow states to craft their own policies.
Tags 2020 campaign 2020 election 2020 republican convention Bob Cusack California Cheri Bustos Donald Trump House majority Katie Hill Minnesota National Republican Congressional Committee NRCC Tim Scott Tom Emmer
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