WASHINGTON — National Republicans predicted they would hold the majority in the House and said they were confident they could win two open Nevada seats that Democrats need to take control of the lower chamber.
“We are going to hold the majority,” Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Thursday.
Stivers downplayed national polls that show Democrats with an advantage over Republicans heading into the midterm elections because of dissatisfaction with Congress and the president’s historically low approval numbers.
And while Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said 105 House seats are in play in this election, Stivers said only 50 are really competitive.
Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House, which the GOP has controlled since the 2010 midterm election.
Stivers said competitive races for Nevada governor and the U.S. Senate will bring voters out in both parties, but that could help Republicans pick up the more rural Nevada 4th Congressional District.
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., announced he would not seek re-election in that district following a House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. Kihuen beat Rep. Cresent Hardy, a Republican, to win in 2016.
The 3rd Congressional District seat came open in 2016 when Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully for Harry Reid’s Senate seat won by Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. Jacky Rosen defeated Danny Tarkanian to put the House seat in Democratic hands.
This year Rosen is running to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller. There is a slate of candidates in both parties seeking respective nominations on June 19.
“These are Democratic districts now, and they will be Democratic districts after November,” said Drew Godinich, a DCCC spokesman.
Independent political analysts rate the open Nevada seats as leaning or likely Democrat in 2018.
“If the Democrats could win both of these seats without incumbents in 2016, they should be able to hold them in 2018 in what should be a Democratic-leaning environment,” said Kyle Kondik with Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
As for the House, Kondik said Democrats have about 50-50 odds to take control. “Holding these Nevada seats are important to their chances.”