By Rebecca Rainey
Capital News Service
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Monday that either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the head of the GOP ticket could produce a Democratic majority in the House.
Hoyer, the second-most powerful Democrat in the House, said at a press roundtable with college reporters that a Trump or Cruz nomination would be so polarizing that it would harm Republicans seeking re-election to the House.
A Maryland GOP official scoffed at the prediction.
Hoyer said that there would be significant seat pick-ups across the country, including two in Florida, one in Virginia, one in North Carolina, depending on redistricting there, one or two New York, a few seats in Iowa, one in Colorado, one or two in Michigan and one in Montana.
A steep hill for Dems
“The Republicans took over a lot of statehouses in 2010, (and) as a result they had the governance of the House and the Senate,” Hoyer said. “There was partisan gerrymandering and as a result we have a steep hill to climb.”
“But, having said that, if either Trump or Cruz are the nominees, I think we have a very substantially enhanced opportunity to win the majority of the House,” he said.
That would require the Democrats to win a net of 30 seats, the lawmaker acknowledged.
The Republicans currently hold 247 House seats to the Democrats’ 188. For either party, a majority requires control of 218 seats.
“But we have won 30 seats in the past and Republicans have won 30 seats in the past, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer added that a Trump ticket in particular could generate even more gains for the Democratic Party.
He noted that Michael Gerson, a Republican columnist for the Washington Post, wrote earlier this month that Trump as the GOP nominee would destroy the party.
“Now (Gerson is) a Republican. If he’s correct, we could have a big victory and win more than the 30 seats that we need,” Hoyer said.
High turnout helps GOP
In response, Joe Cluster, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party said “the congressman is not living in reality in this primary.”
“I don’t think he is watching the turnout on the Republican side,” Cluster said. “I’m not sure how he is coming to that determination, but our turnout is up 60 to 70 percent in every state.”
He added: “There’s a mood nationally against the Democrats and we wouldn’t be seeing the turnout if there wasn’t.”
According to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, 18 Republican and four Democratic House seats are labelled as “toss ups.”