Skip to comments.Gephardt expresses Nov. doubt that Democrats will win control of the House
Posted on 05/23/2006 5:43:58 PM PDT by Jean S
During a private meeting in San Francisco last week, former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) expressed doubt that Democrats will win control of the House this fall, according to knowledgeable sources.
Gephardts remarks about the upcoming election, delivered to a group of investment analysts last Tuesday in the district of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), run counter to the predictions of some of his former colleagues who now occupy powerful positions in the Democratic leadership.
During a lunch sponsored by the Gerson Lehrman investment-consulting firm at the Omni Hotel, the 2004 presidential candidate and House minority leader from 1995 to 2003 said the lack of competitive races and gerrymandered districts could help House Republicans retain a narrower majority in the next Congress, the sources said.
But when asked about his comments, Gephardt suggested that people might have misconstrued what he said because they had expected him to predict a resounding victory this fall.
What I said is what everyone knows, Gephardt told The Hill, noting that many districts have been set up to favor incumbents.
Political observers are split on whether the anticipated anti-Republican wave will lead to a change of power in the 110th Congress, with some saying the wave will be big enough to conquer incumbents who enjoy gerrymandered districts and fundraising advantages.
Its never possible to make an iron-clad guarantee, he said. If the election were today, wed win back the House, but it is not today. We have a great chance to win back the House.
Asked about the Senate, Gephardt said, We have a great chance to win back both houses.
Sources said Gephardts public comments contrast with his statements behind closed doors last week. Gephardt disputed those claims, characterizing them as rank hearsay.
The sources stressed that the 14-term former lawmaker conveyed confidence that Democrats will pick up seats this November.
Democrats will have to win a significant majority of open seats and defeat at least a handful of incumbents to win control of the chamber. Not including the radically redistricted state of Texas, only three House incumbents lost in 2004: Reps. Max Burns (R-Ga.), Phil Crane (R-Ill.), and Baron Hill (D-Ind.). Burns and Hill are running to reclaim their seats this year.
Gephardt, now a senior counsel at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, said he believes this year is like no other since the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994.
We have never seen the Republicans in the political shape that theyre in today, Gephardt said. If these poll numbers keep up, Republicans will lose their parents votes.
Some Democrats, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), have predicted that Republicans will lose their 12-year grip on power in the House. But others, including Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), have been more cautious.
Despite the different public pronouncements, Democrats are preparing for a return to the majority. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told The Hill earlier this month that party leaders are reviewing their caucus rules to head off any potential conflicts should they win the House.
There are 231 Republicans in the House, with the special election to replace former Rep. Randy Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) pending next month. Democrats will have to attain a net gain of 15 seats to take control.
Since 1994, any shift in the House has been a net gain or loss of fewer than 10 seats.
National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) noted in a C-SPAN interview earlier this year that Republicans have steadily increased their majority over the past dozen years and have more seats now than they have had in 60 years.
Asked for comment on Gephardts remarks last week in San Francisco, NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti said, Hes looking at the data and not jumping on the bandwagon with the pundits.
But with President Bushs low poll numbers and the Jack Abramoff scandal still unfolding, some House Republicans are nervous. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, recently predicted that Democrats could take control of the chamber.
Many Democrats are growing increasingly confident that their party will be setting the agenda in the House next year. In a recent National Journal poll, senior Democratic strategists were asked to rate from a scale of zero (no chance) to 10 (virtual certainty) that Democrats would take over the House. The average score was 5.6.
DCCC spokesman Bill Burton said, No one is saying weve got a lock hold on the majority. Burton noted that gerrymandered districts and other advantages make it challenging to defeat incumbents but added, Were clearly on offense, and [Republicans] are in a defensive posture. Were in a great position.
Told of Gephardts comments, Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said the minority leader believes that if the election were today, House Democrats would win control. But the election is six months away.
Pelosi succeeded Gephardt as the top House Democrat in 2003.
Gephardt has firsthand experience in attempting to regain lost power, failing to become House Speaker in four successive elections.
In the lead-up to the 2002 elections, Gephardt avoided brash, public predictions. But in July of that year, he reportedly told senior Democrats that the party could pick up as many as 40 House seats that November. House Republicans expanded their majority by seven seats, and Gephardt subsequently stepped aside as minority leader.
Gephardt has contributed to four Democrats during the 2005-2006 cycle, none of them a politically vulnerable House member: Rep. Doris Matsui (Calif.), who filled her deceased husbands seat last year; Rep. Ben Cardin (Md.), who is running to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.); Bob Casey Jr., who is looking to take the seat of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Gephardt, who also ran for president in 1988, was a front-runner to be the running mate of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last year. Despite pressure from union leaders to pick Gephardt, Kerry selected Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).
Edwards, who is eyeing another presidential bid, is courting the labor vote, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Yeah whatever !
Who is Gephardt?
I hope he's right this time.
Maybe because he's been out of the Barking Moonbat Inner Circle for awhile, he's gotten a clue as to what Americans really care about.....and his party's sniping about Bush protecting their lives isn't it.
America WANTS wiretapping, Gitmo, and all those other things that Nancy Pelosi says are wrong.
Some Democrats make the mistake of thinking that low Republican approval means the same as high Democrat approval.
Did Gephardt inform these people that they were winners of lifes lottery?
Good grief. I agree with a Democrat more than the whiny Republicans on this site.
Sign up now for your DUmmie password so you can go watch their meltdown when they fail to win congress. Usually, when they have an electoral disappointment, Skinner shuts out people who aren't registered because he knows they'll mostly be Freepers gloating.
I seem to recall hearing the same or a similar sort of thing in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004...
The republians need to work hard to ensure they keep the house and i wish they even winning more seats .
Oh, no! Not the eyebrow again!
Oh Yeah,Skinner shut the whole Damn Place Down in 2004, I tried to get in all night,
LOL, that's tempting. I've never posted over there.
It's not easy to avoid being banned. That's the real challenge of it, because Skinner's moderators are very quick on the trigger to ban anyone, no matter how innocuous, who doesn't toe the party line.
I don't mean outright trolls, as we get here on FR, but I mean even thoughful comments that go against the Progressive mythology.
Principal Skinner did that? No wonder Bart's mad at him!