LAS VEGAS — Democrats will win more House seats because of the leaked Donald Trump video.
The man in charge of winning seats for House Democrats isn’t much for predictions, but Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján was willing to wager that the release of a 2005 recording of the Republican presidential nominee talking about groping and kissing women would cost Trump’s party.
“What I can say is that a result of the American people finding out about the vitriol that Donald Trump spoke of women through the release of the tapes, since the release of those tapes, I’m more optimist that we’ll pick up more seats than was originally expected,” Luján told Roll Call. “What those numbers are, we’ll see going into election night.”
Like many Democratic lawmakers, the New Mexico congressman is visiting Nevada ahead of the third and final presidential debate scheduled for Wednesday evening in Las Vegas.
Luján is expected to do some surrogate activities for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in addition to his DCCC duties while in the area.
Roll Call caught up with Luján following a gathering to motivate staff and volunteers working on the campaign of Democrat Jacky Rosen in Nevada's 3rd District. Rosen faces Republican Danny Tarkanian for the seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for the Senate.
The event at a Democratic campaign office in a shopping center, west of downtown, came shortly after the DCCC announced a more than $21 million fundraising haul for September alone, and more than $44 million for the third quarter of 2016 as a whole.
Luján was eager to defer credit to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of the House Democratic leadership whom he said have been all over the country.
“With leader Pelosi’s guidance, the DCCC has outraised the NRCC every month except for one month. I know that they haven’t reported their numbers. We’ll see what they report for this period, but it shows strength and momentum with just 21 days left until Election Day,” Luján said.
Luján was also meeting at a phone bank in North Las Vegas with supporters of state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, the Democratic nominee for the sprawling 4th District seat currently represented by Republican Cresent Hardy.
With returns from many competitive contests in the eastern part of the county likely to come in even before the polls close out west, the ultimate weight of the targeted races out west may hinge on what’s already happened.
Luján said both of the Nevada House races are currently pointing in their favor — which he said was a trend.
“I feel confident that Democrats are going to win seats,” Luján said. “You counter that with what Republicans said early on. Republicans [said], if you’ll remember back at the beginning of this cycle through the NRCC, and even recently with Kevin McCarthy, that Republicans would add seats to their majority. Clearly that is not the case.”