(KMSP) - U.S. Representative Tom Emmer, now the lead fundraiser and recruiter for House Republicans as they try to reverse 2018's losses, said the GOP will need to make strategic changes for the next election.
Emmer this week became chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm for the House GOP. The congressman from Delano ran unopposed.
Democrats picked up more House seats this year than any election since 1974, when Republicans were reeling from Watergate. Emmer blamed midterm headwinds against the party in power.
"It’s disappointing, especially with the economic success we’ve seen and other things that have gone very well for this country in the past two years," Emmer said in an interview with Fox 9. "But it is what it is. The voters have spoken."
Democrats had a significant fundraising advantage in 2018. Emmer credited the Democrats' online portal, ActBlue, which bundles small-dollar donations from across the country and delivers them to candidates.
Republicans have been unsuccessful in developing a similar system, but Emmer said the party needs to try again.
"That’s what we have to overcome on the Republican side," he said. "We need to take advantage of the same platform and allow the people who support us to not only support us but to do it in a very easy and efficient manner."
Democrats racked up wins in suburban areas, which have traditionally been Republican strongholds. Two of them, Minnesota's 2nd and 3rd congressional districts, are within a short drive from Emmer's own 6th district.
Emmer said it was unfair to pin the blame on President Trump's unpopularity in the suburbs.
"Definitely people have an opinion about the executive in this country. But if you’re doing your job, that’s not your job to defend the executive," he said. "Your job is to represent the people that hired you."
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen lost his re-election bid in the 3rd district by 12 points, after winning previous elections by double digits. And U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis lost his 2nd district race by six points.
Emmer said he was not sure whether either would run again in 2020.
"Actually, I think that’s premature. I have talked with both of them, but not about that," Emmer said.
Emmer said House Republicans planned to run on the strong economy and low unemployment rate in 2020.