The rise of Democratic contender Bernie Sanders has top House Republicans optimistic the party will recapture the majority this November, and they have their fingers crossed he will seize the nomination.
The Republican Party lost the House in 2018 amid heavy defections from key voting blocs dissatisfied with President Trump. With Sanders emerging as the Democratic front-runner this month, House Republican leaders are convinced the GOP is now poised to win back the chamber. In interviews Thursday, they characterized the socialist Vermont senator as a virtual panacea for nearly every political challenge the party faces heading into the fall, and his success is helping them whether he gains the nomination or not.
“The majority is in play,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California told the Washington Examiner before speaking at a gathering in D.C. to boost female Republican congressional candidates. Added McCarthy’s deputy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana: “Bernie puts the House even more in play than it already is. I can’t think of one swing district Democrat that would want to invite Bernie Sanders into their district.”
Republicans need to flip at least 18 seats to win the House and are honed in on 30 held by Democrats that voted for Trump in 2016. Congressional leaders typically hedge when discussing their party’s prospects, wary of raising expectations this far from Election Day.