Tuesday, September 25, 2007

GOP expects to lose more house seats


Top Republicans are privately bracing for the possibility that they could lose additional House seats in next year’s elections as a result of untimely retirements, ongoing scandals and unexpectedly gloomy fundraising forecasts, according to several members and aides.

It seems every day brings more bad news for Republicans. As Politico first reported Friday, House Minority Leader John Boehner and his campaign chief, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, are at war over campaign tactics and operations. Boehner is demanding a major shake-up at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The dust-up might be the least of the GOP’s problems. Three House Republicans in very competitive districts recently announced their retirements — and several more senior GOP members have hinted they may do the same.

Put simply, Republicans lack the money to fight seriously for many of these seats. The NRCC is essentially broke, with more debt than money in the bank. “When you look at what’s going on in the House, the prospects for getting back on track are pretty dim at the moment,” said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.).

It is not unusual for fortunes to change quickly in politics. A popular Republican presidential candidate, for instance, could help GOP candidates in swing states, as could an infusion of cash from outside political groups and business interests. The Democratic Congress remains wildly unpopular in polls, and some Republicans are optimistic they will benefit politically when voters look for someone to blame next fall.

But fundamentals matter in politics. And right now, Republicans are suffering from setbacks in recruitment, retirements, money and efforts to craft an election strategy. These concerns help explain the recent spat between Boehner and Cole.....

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