Rhode Island, Illinois districts as bellwether for House

Updated

As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.

And according to Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), as go two key races in Rhode Island and Illinois, so goes the House.

Sessions, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, called two crucial races for House Republicans: incumbent Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) versus the Republican challenger Brendan Doherty in Rhode Island’s 1st district, and Democratic candidate William Enyart versus Republican Jason Plummer in Illinois’ 12th district.

“These are two key seats that will tell me early on where we are as a party, our messaging, and how we’re going to do throughout the night,” Sessions told The Daily Rundown’s Chuck Todd.

Both seats are long-time Democratic strongholds. Rhode Island’s 1st district has been served by Democrats in 64 of the past 70 years, and the candidates in Illinois’s 12th district are vying for incumbent Democrat Jerry Costello’s seat, which he has held since 1993.

Recent public polling suggests both of these races are currently toss-ups.

Todd gave Sessions kudos for being the “lone voice” who predicted the GOP could gain seats in 2012, as both the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report are predicting either no net changes in House seats, or small gains for the Democrats that would not result in a change of power.

Sessions would not speculate as to whether voters might re-elect a GOP House and Democratic Senate with President Obama winning over the Oval Office, which Todd contended is a “fairly reasonable scenario…if you believe all the public polling.” But Sessions did admit that Republicans need to win House seats in New Hampshire, or a Mitt Romney victory could be in jeopardy.

“Those [two New Hampshire races] are both very competitive, very tight places. It’s directly out of the Boston markets so they get a lot of Massachusetts TV, and Mitt is not doing well in Massachusetts,” Sessions said. ”I think it’s when you go into other traditional areas or … areas that are further south, into coal country, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio–that will be the tell of the tale.”

Rhode Island, Illinois districts as bellwether for House

Updated