Hoyer: ‘We Are Not Asleep at the Switch’

By Gorman Gorman

Dec 3, 2009 10:49am

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer met with a group of political reporters in Washington today to deliver a simple message: 2010, he said, is not 1994.

"We are not asleep at the switch as we were" going into 1994, Hoyer, D-Md., told us. "I don't think we're going to lose the majority — I'm pretty confident of that. Again, because our members are not sleeping at this point in time."

Democrats have grown concerned about the possibility of major losses in next year's mid-term congressional elections. Some Republicans have expressed optimism that they could even win back control of the House — as the GOP did in 1994, the last time a Democratic president faced his first mid-term elections.

Democrats' concerns have grown as the economy has struggled to create new jobs. And speculation about a "wave" election has heightened with two recent retirements of veteran Democrats in Republican-leaning districts — creating prime GOP pick-up opportunities.

But Hoyer said Democrats aren't worried about retirements, noting that Republicans are still defending more open seats next year than they are. "We've had an unusually low number of retirements," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said the main difference between this coming year and 1994 is that this time, Democrats are prepared. Candidate recruitment efforts, he said, are yielding results, including in the to-be-vacated seats, he said.

Moving into next year, Hoyer said, congressional leaders will "really focus like a laser" on job creation, as well as finding ways to control government spending — goals that, as Hoyer acknowledged, can be contradictory.

"Next year, you're going to find two major themes: jobs and fiscal responsibility," Hoyer said.

Democrats, he said, know too well what it's like to lose the majority to let something like that sneak up on them again.

"If it were November of 1993, we wouldn't be having this meeting. Why? Because in November of 1993, nobody was discussing that we may have tough races coming up in the election year of 1994. We were pretty cocksure that what was, would be, and as a result, we weren't as on-guard as we should have been. That is definitively not the case in 2009."

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