House Democrats were shell-shocked Wednesday after they watched their party lose seats, meaning they are poised to hold a smaller majority next Congress despite the bullish predictions of party bosses in the run-up to the elections.
‘”If we’ve don’t get our act together, we’re going to get creamed in 2022,” said one House Democratic member who asked for anonymity.
Some Democrats told CNN the party needs to fine-tune its message and begin to push a stronger economic agenda — or risk losing the majority in the next elections. And others wanted a shakeup in leadership —namely for Rep. Cheri Bustos, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to be ousted from her job.
Rep. Filemon Vela said Bustos should step aside after the “bloodbath” the party endured since a number of freshmen Democrats stand likely to lose their races when the votes are ultimately counted. Bustos is struggling to hang onto her own House seat in Illinois, as CNN has not made a projection in that tight race.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears secure in her position as speaker despite second-guessing in the ranks, with no challengers yet emerging, lawmakers said.
Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi in the past, told CNN Wednesday he wouldn’t do it again this time. Asked if he thought there should be any changes in leadership, Ryan declined to comment.
“I got enough scar tissue on those fights to last me a lifetime,” Ryan said.
But Ryan said of the outcome in House races: “I think there’s a lot of people who are disappointed from top-to-bottom,” while contending that the party should sharpen its economic message in an effort to appeal to working-class voters.
“We have got to live and breathe in that economic space,” Ryan said.
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