The leaders of a new "super political-action committee" focused on maintaining a Republican House majority said they agree with a forecast that predicts Democrats will pick up five to 10 House seats in 2012. That would ensure continued GOP control, since Democrats need a 25-seat net gain to retake control of the House.
Brian Walsh, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), said the 2012 prediction by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report “is fairly accurate.” Political analyst Charlie Cook (no relation) recently wrote, “the most likely outcome today appears to be a Democratic gain of five to 10 seats.”
“Greater risk for Republicans," said former Sen. Norm Coleman, CLF chair, referring to the fact that the GOP has more seats to defend than Democrats. "I think it is a very fair assessment,” he added.
Both Messrs. Coleman and Walsh were guests at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters on Tuesday.
CLF was launched in October with the goal of raising funds to help elect Republicans to the House. It is aimed at balancing efforts by the Democratic House Majority PAC, as well as labor-union efforts. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of cash from companies, unions, and individuals.
Republicans picked up 63 House seats in 2010 to retake control of the chamber and install John Boehner as speaker. Some GOP members won in normally Democratic districts. Next year, Walsh said, "You are going to see the majority of the competition in the country is going to take place in either blue states or purple states, not in red states.”
Both Coleman and Walsh stressed that much can change before the 2012 election, especially since the process of congressional redistricting has not been completed in all states.
While not quibbling with the accuracy of a forecast that Democrats would probably pick up some seats next year, Walsh argued, "The pathway to the majority for the Democrats in the House is far more difficult than the pathway that we had to get the majority back in 2010.” One reason, he said, is that some so-called Blue Dog (conservative) Democrats who lost their seats in 2010 came from districts where Democrats will have a hard time succeeding – “particularly in places like Tennessee and Alabama,” he said.
Another factor working in Republicans’ favor, Coleman said, is President Obama: “This is still an environment where the president is on the ballot. He is not a positive in a lot of these contested areas, and so I think you are going to see kind of closer margins and closer races than you saw in 2010 and 2008.”
Democrats' efforts to regain control of the House are being made more difficult by retirements. Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank announced his plans to leave Congress on Monday. Of the nine House members who are retiring and not seeking another office, all are Democrats, according to calculations published Tuesday by Politico. An additional eight Democrats are running for different offices.
Among Republican retirees in the House, all seven are running for other offices.