The head of the House Republicans' fundraising and recruiting arm predicts his party will retain control of the chamber next year and gain seats in November — pushing back at estimates by many political experts that the GOP will drop a dozen or more seats in the election.
"We're going to pick up seats," Rep. Pete Sessions, the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, told reporters Wednesday at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor."We're going to not get rattled with this (speculation of a) loss of up to 15" seats."
NRCC Deputy Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, who also attended the breakfast, added there is "enormous opportunity for Republican pickups."
"You can identify these races around the country where we all not only have an opportunity to pick up Democratic House seats but also hardening gains that we've had," the Oregon Republican said.
House Republicans enjoy a 242 to 190 advantage over Democrats in the House, with three vacancies previously held by Democrats. Many election handicappers expect Democrats to gain five to 15 seats, far short needed for the party to take control.
House Democratic leaders increasingly have expressed confidence the political winds are changing and that they have a good shot of winning back the House. And even House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, told Fox News last month there is a "1-in-3 chance" his party could lose the chamber this year.
But Mr. Sessions said the political climate hasn't changed from 2010, when Republicans made historic gains and grabbed the House reins from the Democrats. He pointed to strong showings in Tuesday's primaries for GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and lackluster returns for President Obama as evidence voters increasingly are turning to his party.
"The opportunity that we have today is very much like the 2010 cycle," said Mr. Sessions, who has represented a Dallas-area district since 1997. "What was faced last night ... was an indication that the issues which are top on the minds of the voters are the same as those [in 2010]: It is Obamacare, it is big government, it is jobs and the economy, and it is spending."
Mr. Sessions and Mr. Walden declined to say how many seats they expect to gain this election.
"The bottom-line message here is, we will never take the House for granted, and neither should our donors and neither should our grass-roots people," Mr. Walden said. "We know how volatile politics can be, and we are serious about our work and we are going to stay focused and we want our teams to stay focused."
Mr. Walden said NRCC fundraising is "117 percent ahead of where we were two years ago."
Mr. Sessions said that House Republican candidates will benefit greatly with Mr. Romney at the top of the ticket and said the NRCC is coordinating with the presumptive party nominee on campaign strategies.
The Texas lawmaker added that he "knows of not one Republican candidate that would not appear publicly with Mitt Romney."
"Our members of Congress and our candidates view Mitt Romney very well," he said. "One hundred percent of Republican candidates would appear with our entire ticket, up and down, from president all the way down. And I know a huge number of Democrats that ... don't want to be even seen with the president."
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