If President Donald Trump’s influence over the Republican Party continues next year, Tom Emmer won’t mind.
The chairman of the House Republican campaign arm said it’d be a net positive for the party in the 2022 election cycle: Trump-motivated turnout was instrumental in the party picking up at least 10 seats, and Trump is “the single greatest small-dollar fundraiser in the history of the Republican Party,” Emmer said.
“Donald Trump brings a lot of things up that I hear in the middle of the country that people are thinking, but nobody here in Washington is saying,” the Minnesota Republican said in an interview with Bloomberg Government. “He definitely is a voice that people are going to expect to continue to be involved.”
While Trump lost — a reality few Republicans in Congress have publicly conceded a month after the election — the National Republican Congressional Committee was one of the election’s biggest winners. Handicappers predicted Democrats would expand their majority, but Republicans instead scooped up some of the seats they’d lost in 2018.
Emmer, whose efforts earned him the NRCC chairmanship again next cycle, attributed the success to a slate of diverse candidates, noting every candidate who flipped a seat was a woman, a minority, or a veteran. He’s also pointed to the success of casting the Democratic Party as one pulled to the left by progressive members, despite a lack of major progressive-backed legislation being brought up for votes.
The victories weren’t enough to give Republicans the gavel, but a slim majority for Democrats means Republicans will have more leverage on the House floor in the 117th Congress. It also positions the party well in 2022.
Republicans have the upper hand in the redistricting process, which begins next year, thanks in part to state legislative successes last month. Plus, midterms tend to be good for the party not in the White House, although some political strategists have questioned whether Republican control of the Senate could stymie that advantage to some degree.
Stick With What Works
Emmer’s strategy for the midterm election cycle: Play back 2020, but go bigger. That means continuing to recruit diverse candidates and paint all Democrats as “socialists” who support the more progressive elements of their party.
“Let’s take what we built, and let’s make it even better. Let’s lean in even harder,” he said. “We got some great candidates already out there that may not have gotten over the hurdle this cycle.”
There are aspects Republicans can improve upon for the midterms, Emmer said. A few races could have had stronger candidates. And WinRed, the Republican fundraising platform, hasn’t reached its full capacity. It processed less than half as much in campaign contributions as its Democratic counterpart, ActBlue.
“We just need to continue to make sure that our members and — beyond our members — Republicans use it and grow it,” he said of WinRed. “Our data is much better than the other side, and we need to take advantage of that.”
Emmer still has his eye on vulnerable Democrats the party lost to again this year. Of the 41 members House Democrats identified before the election as facing competitive races, 31 were re-elected. Emmer vowed Republicans would win those seats again “one way or another.”
“You know those few vulnerable Democrats that managed to squeak by this time?” Emmer said. “They’re either going to be Republicans within the next two years or wish two years from now that we took the majority this time.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Wilkins in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org