GOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses'

Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration 13 House Republicans who bucked Trump on emergency declaration House votes to overturn Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.Y.) is calling on incoming House GOP campaigns chief Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerProgressive demands put new pressures on Democrats Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid Elise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 MORE (R-Minn.) and the rest of the leadership team to conduct an autopsy to find out what went wrong for Republicans in the disastrous 2018 midterms.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter obtained by The Hill, Stefanik and other allies wrote Monday that the “disappointing results” of the November election “require an honest, transparent assessment of the structural operations and decision-making process that led to our party losing an historic number of seats.”

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The GOP, the lawmakers wrote, lost a number of seats in suburban and other areas that traditionally have backed Republican candidates. The number of female House Republicans will drop from 23 to just 13 next year.

“We fell short across multiple demographics, including women, who represent a growing segment of America’s voting population,” Stefanik and others wrote. “Minimizing or ignoring the root causes behind these historic losses will lead us to repeat them.

“We urge your support for the National Republican Congressional Committee to officially assess the reasons behind our party’s historic losses and to develop recommendations for implementation moving forward.”

Stefanik’s chief of staff, Anthony Pileggi, a former National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) staffer, circulated the letter on Monday to GOP offices. In addition to Stefanik, it was signed by Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerBooker, Gabbard to make appearances with Colbert The Hill's 12:30 Report: Cohen back on the hot seat The Hill's Morning Report - Citing probes, Trump says 2020 race has begun MORE (R-Ill.), as well as Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloEx-GOP lawmaker joins marijuana trade group Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (R-Fla.) and Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderKansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street MORE (R-Kan.), who both lost their reelection bids.

The Stefanik letter is the latest twist in an ongoing spat with Emmer, the new NRCC chairman for the 2020 cycle.

After the November drubbing, Stefanik, who led GOP recruitment efforts for the NRCC in the 2018 cycle, said GOP leaders needed to do a better job intervening in primaries to help nominate more female candidates.

Emmer called that a “mistake” in an interview with Roll Call, prompting Stefanik to fire back on Twitter: “NEWSFLASH... I wasn’t asking for permission.”  

In the letter, the lawmakers singled out Emmer.

“We specifically ask the incoming Chair and Leadership team to undergo a thorough and transparent strategic assessment of NRCC operations along with House Leadership’s 2018 agenda to formally analyze what went wrong, what lessons were learned — including those learned from the successful efforts of our Democratic counterparts — and what will be done to better support the next generation of Republican congressional candidates,” Stefanik and the others wrote.

“The NRCC strategic assessment should include every aspect of its operations and decision-making process, from data, fundraising, polling and staffing to messaging and voter targeting among key demographics. The NRCC should also look at decisions made by House Leadership during the 2018 cycle including the policy process, legislation and messaging to see what contributed to our losses this cycle and how we can adjust moving forward."

“Addressing the root causes of our party’s historic congressional losses is our duty, and ours alone. We can and must do better,” the lawmakers continued. “Addressing this crisis right now is the first step toward ensuring Republican candidates better reflect America, and to winning more elections.”

A GOP source close to Emmer said both he and Stefanik have been in close contact in recent days. He proposed holding NRCC listening sessions with members to find out ways to recruit more female candidates in the next cycle.

"He is on board 100 percent with what the letter is asking," the Emmer source said. "We are on the same team, we want to find out what went wrong, correct it, and win the majority in 2020."