Former GOP Rep. Davis: Republicans Need Wins on Board

By Jonathan Blakely

Apr 21, 2010 2:51pm

ABC News' Rick Klein reports: Amid all the optimism about Republican prospects in congressional races this fall, it's time for the GOP to start winning some races in special elections, former Rep. Tom Davis said today on ABC’s “Top Line.” Davis, R-Va., said the GOP needs to win at least one of this month's two special election for House seats that were previously held by Democrats, to demonstrate that political energy can translate into votes. A failure to win the seat once held by the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., would prompt “fundamental questions” about the direction of the Republican Party, he said. “They've got to win one of these races — Hawaii or Pennsylvania,” said Davis, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Pennsylvania is just down the middle of the plate for them — the only district in the country voted for McCain [that voted] for Kerry [in 2004].” “This is the type of person that is swinging towards the Republicans — it fits the profile. If they can't win here, I think you have to say we have to go back to the fundamentals. Hawaii is a little bit different situation because you have one Republican, two Democrats on that [ballot]. I guess if you win Hawaii, are you renting the seat or can you hold it? … I think you point at this Pennsylvania race. If you can't win that I think there are going to be some fundamental questions.” Democrats have won all six special elections for House seats in the current election cycle, including the two races where both parties have fully engaged, in upstate New York. Special elections can be important indicators of coming political trends, particularly in districts that are closely divided, Davis said. “Traditionally, bi-elections in the UK tell us a lot about the direction of the country. Traditionally in America the in-party tends to lose specials in marginal seats,” he said. “You look at the history of these — it's rare  for the president's party to pick up a seat in a special election. Although the Democrats did it this time in New York.” Turning to the Senate, Davis said Gov. Charlie Crist, R-Fla., is suffering because he’s the “de facto establishment incumbent” in his race. Though he said Crist should bide his time while an investigation of financial irregularities involving his rival, Marco Rubio, plays out, Davis said Crist would stand a chance running as an independent. “I think at this point if you take a look at registrations, independents are the fastest-growing group, you know, across all sectors,” said Davis. “In voter registration at this point a huge frustration is the parties have lurched right and left, dominated by interest groups that dominate these parties in the nominating processes.” And Davis had some trash talk for his rivals in next week’s Hotline “Political Pursuit” trivia contest, with a vow to defend his title from last year on a team that includes Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “We've got some pretenders that are going to take a shot at Sherrie Brown and me next week — we'll see what happens,” Davis said. We also checked in with GQ’s Ana Marie Cox about the push for financial regulatory reform, the Florida Senate race, and the latest party fundraising figures.

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