Strategist Gillespie: GOP Will Gain Control of House in November

Thursday, 20 May 2010 12:40 PM

By Dan Weil

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Republicans are poised to seize control of the House in November, based on election results during the past six months, says star political strategist Ed Gillespie.

The GOP also has a chance to take over the Senate, Gillespie tells Newsmax.TV.

Republican losses in three recent special elections for House seats don’t reflect what’s happening in the rest of the nation, says Gillespie, former White House counselor to President George W. Bush.

The most recent Democratic victory came Tuesday in Pennsylvania’s 12th district, where Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns for the seat vacated by the death of Democrat John Murtha.

Story continues below video.


But registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by 2-to-1, Gillespie points out.

“We were running uphill,” he said.

“I allowed myself to get my hopes up, even though there’s a reason why it’s been represented by a Democrat for 35 years. They dodged a bullet in holding on to a heavily Democratic district.”

But there are plenty of districts where Democrats don’t have such an advantage. Many Democrats are vulnerable, Gillespie says.

“I think we’ll win control of the House in November by winning more than 40 seats.”

Two other recent special election losses by Republicans — in New York’s 23rd district and California’s 10th – also involved special circumstances, Gillespie says.

More telling are the November gubernatorial victories by Republicans Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia, who knocked out Democratic incumbents.

And of course, there was the January shocker in which Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat Ted Kennedy had held for 46 years.

Moreover, Republican Charles Djou is likely to win the special election for a Hawaii House seat Saturday, Gillespie says.

“There are two kinds of Democrats running this year: those who are in danger of losing their seats, and those who just don’t know it yet,” he says.

One positive note in the Critz victory is that he ran in opposition to the new healthcare law, Gillespie points out. That’s ironic, given that President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress had said that the reform package would provide strong campaign ammunition for their party.

“Those Democrats who voted for that bill thinking it would help them get re-elected are probably having second thoughts watching Critz,” Gillespie says.

On the Senate side, he is very impressed with Rand Paul’s win in Kentucky’s Republican primary.

“I think he ran a very good campaign,” Gillespie says. “He tapped into voter concern about spending, debt, taxes and government regulation. He has to be considered the favorite in November.”

The tea partyers who helped Paul and other Republicans Tuesday will stay involved in the general election, Gillespie says.

“That’s a good thing for us. The more people come out to vote because they’re worried about too much spending, too much debt, too much government interference in our lives, the better off Republicans will be come November.”

The defeat of Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., in Tuesday’s primary shows the folly of his switch from the Republican Party last year, Gillespie says.

“The only reason he was making the switch was for expedient political purposes, not out of principle. That caught up with him at the end of the day.”

Gillespie has nothing against party switches based on principle. Indeed, he himself bolted the Democrats in 1984, when he was working for Florida Rep. Andy Ireland, who decided to make the shift. Ireland supported President Reagan in his re-election campaign against Walter Mondale.

“Andy Ireland said, ‘Wait a second. I don’t believe what Mondale is saying. I believe what Ronald Reagan is saying. I’ve been voting with him down the line. I’m going to change parties,’” Gillespie said.

“That was a principled stand he took.” And Gillespie felt the same way, so he switched, too.

“In times when you change parties over principle, win or lose, you can feel good about yourself.”

As for the upcoming Senate races, Gillespie says Republicans have a good chance to oust incumbent Barbara Boxer in California.

She’s very weak and vulnerable, he explains. “She doesn’t have anything to tell the people of California as to this is what I’ve done to help grow the economy and get California out of the tailspin.”

Republicans are likely to win all five seats open because of Republican retirements, four to six seats held by Democrats, and four to five seats opened through Democratic retirements.

“That would take us to 50 or 51 seats. If Barbara Boxer is defeated that could easily be the 51st seat.”

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