The head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee blamed his party's poor showing in Tuesday's House races in part on the power of incumbency and in part on events a year ago that made it hard for the GOP to recruit top candidates to run against Democrats in office.
Rep. Guy Vanderjagt, R-Mich., said 99 percent of incumbent members were re-elected this year and said Democrats have a stranglehold on the House because they have arranged rules and funding to benefit those in office. While that benefits Republicans in office, Vanderjagt admitted, Democrats have controlled the House since 1954 and are perpetuating themselves in power.The GOP suffered, in addition, the 1987 stock market crash and the publicity of Irangate a year ago, just when the party was looking for candidates for House races. Those two events made running as a Republican unpopular to some possibly strong challengers, with the result that it was harder to recruit the best candidates as Republicans.
Vanderjagt also said that many Americans see House races as local contests, not national offices, and lose sight of how their vote may affect House action on national issues.
Responding to a reporter's question that "the Soviet Politboro would be pleased to return 99 percent of incumbents," Vanderjagt agreed, calling the continued one-party control of the House "rotten."
He said the Republicans will pursue ethics charges against Speaker Jim Wright, D-Tex., and support campaign spending reform.
He also promised that House Republicans will not vote for any new tax increases.