House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who helped his party capture the lower chamber, predicted Wednesday that Republicans will win control of the Senate.
“Republicans will gain in the Senate … I think they can probably get up to 52,” McCarthy said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Noting that many of the senators up for reelection this year were swept into office during a wave election year in 2006, McCarthy said this will be the first time they’ve had to run on their record.
“I have this philosophical belief that minorities do not capture majorities, majorities lose majorities. … Think about it — who’s up for election this year in the Senate? People that came in in [the] ’06 and ’08 election and they never had to go before the voters with what they voted on,” McCarthy said.
There are 23 Democratic Senate and 10 Republican seats up for grabs this cycle.
McCarthy also blamed many of the roadblocks in Washington on the Senate, which he equated to a “country club.”
And he predicted that Republicans would hold their majority in the House.
“I believe Republicans maintain the House,” the No. 3 Republican in leadership said.
McCarthy added that he believes the presidential election will be extremely close, saying presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney needs to “sell himself” more vigorously.
He suggested Romney should make a stop at every Staples store on his campaign visits to various cities. Romney helped start the office supply chain when he was head of the venture capital firm Bain Capital.
“Every city I would go into for an event, I would stop at Staples. Why would I stop at Staples? Because there would be no Staples if it wasn’t for Mitt Romney taking a risk. Who does Staples sell to? Every small business around. I wouldn’t do a rally there, I would just go in. Romney has achieved some remarkable things in his life, but Romney’s probably the last person to talk to about them,” McCarthy said.
The GOP leader also predicted the fight over automatic defense cuts will be an issue in the election.
“That issue I believe will continue to grow, will go into the framework of the election in November. I would hope we do something sooner, instead of putting everything into the lame duck,” he said.
McCarthy noted that the House Republicans factored sequestration into their budget earlier this year, and have passed bills that would modify the automatic cuts but the Senate has refused to act on that legislation.
The Majority Whip fielded numerous questions on a wide range of issues including the five-year farm bill, immigration reform and a resolution to fund the government through the start of 2013.
On the farm bill, McCarthy said that massive five-year authorization measure set to expire on Sept. 30th should have time for consideration before the bill is addressed on the House floor.
“I believe we’ll get the farm bill done … when we come back (from August recess), we’ll find a way to move to get back into conference and come back with a full bill,” McCarthy said, noting his goal is to accomplish that feat before the legislation expires.
House lawmakers had to yank a one-year farm bill earlier this week. The Senate has passed the five-year version and is pressuring the House to do the same.
As for comprehensive immigration reform, McCarthy was less optimistic that the lightning rod issue would be dealt with in a comprehensive manner next year.
“Any immigration bill that you do is going to have to be bipartisan," he said.
— This story was updated at 12:05 p.m.