Hours after his party surged to victories nationwide, a weary but cheerful Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus began his victory lap.
“It was a historic night at every single level. This was all about a direct rejection of the Obama agenda,” a visibly tired Priebus said midday Wednesday from the RNC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The GOP retook control of the Senate on Tuesday night, winning at least six new seats in the upper chamber – Alaska and Louisiana have yet to be decided – and a handful of high-profile governor’s races. The party picked up even more seats in the House of Representatives, giving them their largest majority majority in decades.“We had a decisive win in the Senate. It was a clear defeat for Harry Reid’s dysfunctional leadership,” Priebus said, predicting victory in Louisiana’s run-off as well.
The RNC chairman celebrated several wins in particular, talking up Iowa’s Joni Ernst, who became the first woman ever elected statewide with her Senate win over Democrat Bruce Braley; Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, who at 37 will become the youngest senator in America; and New York’s 30-year-old Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Priebus said the Republican wins in governor’s races “affirmed” the party’s leadership in “the bluest of blue states … Even the president’s home state – that’s how big this really is.”
With the 2014 elections in the rear-view mirror, Priebus didn’t miss an opportunity to hype the party’s chances in 2016 while badmouthing the presumptive Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“The president said very clearly that his policies were on the ballot. And voters were very clear in return. They want nothing to do with the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,” he said. “These were the president’s candidates. These were the Clintons’ candidates.”
The president was largely absent from the campaign trail in many of the most competitive states, where he was seen to be more of a liability than a boon, but the Clintons were ubiquitous, stumping everywhere from Kentucky, on behalf of handpicked candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, to Iowa, for Bruce Braley.