As the disappointing election results were being tallied, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel vowed to operatives at an election night party that Democrats would pick up seats in the House.
The bar is lower than the goal of retaking control of the chamber that leaders have talked up for the past two years. Even as networks were calling the House for Republicans, the New Yorker’s fellow Democratic leaders, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, both maintained that such a victory was in their grasp.
“Yes, we think we’re going to take back the House,” Hoyer said.
Israel was less sanguine, drawing a line not at the 25 seats Democrats needed but at a projection made by his Republican counterpart more than one year ago.
“The Republicans said that tonight they were going to win 16 seats. Wrong! We’re not letting ’em win 16 seats. We’re stopping them in their tracks. We’re gonna gain seats tonight in the House of Representatives,” Israel said.
But even if the results will be a disappointment for Democrats, both Pelosi and Hoyer praised Israel’s tenure atop the House campaign committee, with Hoyer calling his work “extraordinary” and Pelosi’s a “job well done.”
Pelosi also expressed optimism about how the rest of the evening would play out. “These elections as they unfold across the country will unroll an ever-increasing number of new Democrats who will come to the Congress and join the fight.” The results will exceed “everyone’s expectation and perhaps achieve our drive to 25 [seats],” Pelosi said.
With recent speculation about Pelosi’s future as a backdrop, Hoyer offered lengthy and effusive praise for the Minority Leader.
“We could not have been successful without the leadership, the extraordinary energy, the focus and the extraordinary ability to raise funds for the cause. … I want to congratulate Nancy Pelosi, our leader,” he said.
“I’ve been at this for some period of time. I have never seen anybody with energy, more focus, more self discipline and more effectiveness in conveying the message of our party and ensuring we have the resources to get that message to the American people. Nancy Pelosi, thank you very, very much,” Hoyer said.
Pelosi congratulated Hoyer on winning re-election to his Congressional seat in Maryland.