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Republicans shrug off election results, forge ahead on tax reform

Rep. Jim Jordan speaks to WKEF from Capitol Hill on Nov. 8, 2017. (SBG)

House Republicans said Wednesday that the resounding defeat their candidates suffered in key races on Election Day make passage of their tax reform plan even more urgent if they hope to stave off losses in the midterms next fall.

Democrats scored victories in hotly-contested gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey. They also flipped a number of previously red districts in the Virginia state legislature. The party won a key state Senate race in Washington, and voters in Maine approved the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

After losing the White House in 2016 and a few contentious special elections earlier this year, Democrats celebrated what they see as a rejection of President Donald Trump’s policies and behavior.

“I think it was a big win last night for the American people,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla. “Unquestionably it was a push back on Donald Trump, how he’s handled the office, and I think it was a victory just for the grassroots.”

Republicans came away from Tuesday night with a very different message, in part because the big Democratic gains came in states that never supported Trump to begin with.

“It wasn’t like Virginia and New Jersey were Republican states in the last election,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

The election results did nothing to shake the confidence of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who still expects strong Republican performances in 2018 and 2020.

“My expectation is the president’s policies are ringing true in the states he won,” he said.

Gaetz insisted Republicans should stay the course and continue fighting for Trump’s agenda.

“We’ll move forward with our message of tax cuts, and opening the prosperity of this economy for the American people,” he said.

Even if Virginia and New Jersey were longshots for the GOP, Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., said there are still lessons the party can learn from its losses.

“It’s something that didn’t come as a major surprise but it does certainly emphasize for Republicans that we need to get our work done,” he said.

Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, also took the results as a sign that the Republican majority needs to start fulfilling its promises to the voters that gave them control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

“I think the key for Republicans is we need to get tax reform done. We need to get that passed, we’re working hard on it in the House,” he said.

He pointed to the surging economy, which grew at a rate of 3 percent in each of the last two quarters, and record numbers in the stock market as proof that the business community is anticipating a successful tax reform measure.

“We see what the economy is doing just on the fact that we’re talking about it, i.e. the stock market,” he said. “Just think what the economy would do if we actually did something.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., is unconcerned that a Democratic wave in bluish-purple states will upend the upcoming Senate race in his deep red state, where controversial former Judge Roy Moore is the Republican candidate. He does see the losses as a warning sign for 2018, though.

“Just because we had a very good last year doesn’t mean we’re going to have a good year next year,” he said.

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