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Keeping Republican control of House no slam dunk, says Chamber CEO Donohue

By John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor
October 26, 2011

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives could “flip” in favor of the Democrats, especially if the presidential race turns into a cakewalk for President Barack Obama.
That’s the word from U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, who delivered the keynote at the 25th annual meeting of the North American Transportation Employee Relations Association (NATERA) in St. Pete Beach, Florida on Oct. 24.
“What I am worried about is the House,” Donohue told NATERA. “I think the Republicans will hold it—but only if they get good candidates and work their tails off.”
Donohue said control of the House often is cyclical, reflecting the changing mood of the country. “The House goes tick-tock, it can swing back and forth,” said Donohue, noting Republicans hold only a 25-seat majority.
On the Senate side, 23 of the 34 seats up for re-election next year are held by Democrats. Although Republicans need a net gain of five seats for control of the Senate, that might not be easy either. But it’s possible Democrats could lose control simply because they have so many members up for re-election.
“It’s like a trucking accident—the more miles you run, the more exposure you have,” Donohue said. “The more people you have running, the more chances you have for upsets.”
It’s possible the Republicans could win the Senate if the presidential race is close, Donohue said. If the presidential race is not close, that’s going to make it tougher for Republicans, Donohue predicted.
Although the Chamber stays out of presidential politics, Donohue said Republican lukewarm favorite Mitt Romney “looks fairly strong” but added Texas Gov. Rick Perry “has got a big stack of money” that he could use to upset Romney for the nod, especially if he shows well in the nation’s first primary early next year in New Hampshire.
“If he divided it up among the voters in New Hampshire, he could win,” Donohue said. “But I think Romney is a bit stronger.”

About the Author

John D. Schulz
Contributing Editor

John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. He is known to own the fattest Rolodex in the business, and is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis. This wise Washington owl has performed and produced at some of the highest levels of journalism in his 40-year career, mostly as a Washington newsman.

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