GOP Strategist O'Connell: 'Political Trade Winds' Favor Republicans

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 05:13 PM

By Lisa Barron

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GOP retirements in Congress are not likely to harm the party's strong prospects in the November midterm elections, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

"Overall, the Democrats are really barking up the wrong tree. The reason why it's a good time to pass the torch if you will in 2014 in some of these swing seats is the political trade winds are really in the Republicans' favor," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Wednesday.

O'Connell has worked for several political campaigns, including the McCain-Palin 2008 presidential campaign.

He said he believes that in California, the GOP will keep Rep. Howard Buck McKeon's seat after the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee retires.

"The question is going to be who winds up winning the primary. This is still a Republican lead district so if you can get the right candidate at the door, guess what? The Republicans are going to hold this seat. I don't see a lot of gains and losses in 2014 on the House. We have a net 17, we can really go anywhere from a plus or minus four seat back up to a four-seat loss. The bigger concern for me would be California 31, which is [Gary] Miller's seat, because that's a strong blue situation," O'Connell said.

"But the good thing is if we are going actually be able to catch up on this, this is the best time to do it because guess what? The great thing about Democratic voters is, even though it's California they're not conditioned to turn out at a non-presidential election."

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Across the country in New Jersey, O'Connell said he sees Republicans hanging on to Jon Runyan's seat as well. "It's unfortunate that he stepped down because he was a popular congressman, was doing a great job, particularly in a blue stronghold like New Jersey, but this is what we call an R plus one district, and essentially, if the Republican nominee can get the turnout we should be able to hold onto that seat," he explained.

As for Frank Wolf's seat in Virginia, O'Connell said, "Well, it depends here who wins the Republican primary, but if Barbara Comstock wins the Republican primary, she's going to wind up succeeding Frank Wolf. And frankly, it's somebody who really knows the district, she's not a carpetbagger and she's also a woman, it helps us put a fresh face on the Republican Party.

Even in Iowa's 3rd district, where there is a partisan fault line, O'Connell thinks the GOP could retain the seat being vacated by Tom Latham.

"That was a really big loss for Republicans because essentially, this is a smack dead even district, and the best thing going for Republicans right now is that the generic ballot is tied and that essentially, President Obama's approval rating is so low in Iowa and that really gives the Republicans an opportunity to pick this up again," he said.

"A lot of these seats have primaries and the question is, does the most electable candidate on the Republican side arrive from those primaries? If they do, we're going to hold a lot of these seats."

Asked about the Democratic response to statistician Nate Silver's prediction that the party will lose control of the Senate, O'Connell responded, "Here's what really chaps Democrats, because of Nate Silver's statistical record and correctly predicting the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, among the MSNBC, the liberal donor crowd, he has near god-like status.

"And it's because he's out there saying, 'hey Democrats, guess what, you can actually lose the Senate in 2016,' he really has a lot of liberal donors worried. And it's one of these things that Democrats are trying to fundraise off of to get more money to really play in there, and obviously the atmospherics can change, but this is something that really has Democrats scared."

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