The Washington Post

Van Hollen confident Democrats won't lose House

By Aaron Blake
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 28, 2010; A2 

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Friday that he is "confident" that his party will keep control of the House after November's election.

Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Democrats have three things working in their favor that will help prevent their losing the 39 seats that would cost them the House: Americans have a negative view the Republican Party; Republicans have nominated extreme "tea party" candidates in many races; and Democrats have been preparing for nearly two years for a difficult midterm election.

"We have been preparing from day one for what we knew would be a very tough campaign season," Van Hollen said during a news conference at the National Press Club. "I am confident that Democrats will retain control of the House."

The idea that the House could flip to Republican control gained momentum after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs broached the possibility last month. Since then, the economy has soured and the political outlook has only gotten worse for Democrats.

This week, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R) gave a speech in his home state of Ohio and called for the firing of President Obama's top economic advisers, including Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House adviser Lawrence H. Summers.

Boehner said the Obama administration has put too rosy a face on the country's economic situation.

"The worse things get, the more they circle the wagons and defend the indefensible," Boehner said.

On Friday, Republicans said Van Hollen - much like Obama's economic team and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - painting over a gloomy picture for his party.

"The failed policies of the Obama-Pelosi agenda are the very reason why this so-called 'Recovery Summer' has turned into the Run-for-Cover Summer for so many Democrats who are afraid to face the voters," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "They know that the dam is about to break."

At the news conference, Van Hollen defended the Democratic leadership on the economy and the 2009 stimulus package. On the latter count, he pointed to a recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that said the stimulus might have added 3.3 million jobs to the U.S. economy during the second quarter and averted another recession.

Van Hollen also emphasized his belief that many voters are still not paying attention to this year's elections and that many campaigns have yet to begin in earnest. He said a slew of early Republican polls suggesting doom for his party underestimate the enthusiasm of Democratic voters.

Many of those polls show Republicans leading Democratic incumbents although voters know little about the GOP candidates. In some cases, the lead is in the double digits.

Van Hollen said his candidates will make the case that those Republicans represent a return to failed policies - the ones that led to the economic troubles that are haunting the Democrats' electoral prospects right now.

"I'm not suggesting the American people are bullish on either party, but what I am suggesting is that they consistently have greater confidence in the Democrats," Van Hollen said.