Rep. Steve Israel, the man in charge of Democrats’ efforts to retake the House, says he doesn’t think President Obama’s endorsement last week of same-sex marriage will be a factor in November’s races.
In an interview on MSNBC Monday morning, Israel (N.Y.) said he believes Obama “made the right decision” last week.
“I’ve supported this decision for my entire time in Congress and as a public official,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. “It was the right decision, but every member of Congress and every challenger has to reflect the values and priorities of the districts in which they’re running. I don’t believe that this issue is going to sway the election one way or the other.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), for his part, also appears ambivalent about the effect same-sex marriage might have on the fall’s election. At his weekly news conference last week, he signaled that the GOP is intent on keeping the focus on jobs and the economy, not on gay marriage.
“The president and the Democrats can talk about all this all they want,” he said. “But the fact is the American people are focused on our economy and they’re asking the question: Where are the jobs?”
The dynamics of how Obama’s move might play out in the fall remain uncertain.
Nationally, some polls show a slim majority of Americans expressing support for same-sex marriage. In some competitive Senate races, however, polling suggests the issue could be a net negative for Democrats – and in a quartet of states, Democrats facing tough bids have sought to distance themselves from Obama in the wake of the president’s announcement last week, as The Fix’s Rachel Weiner notes.
On the House level, the members most likely to face difficulty in the wake of Obama’s announcement are those Democrats running in culturally-conservative districts.
But even those Democrats are dwindling in number as the conservative Blue Dog Coalition has seen its membership sharply decline over the past two election cycles.
Israel was asked Monday morning that, if not same-sex marriage, then what issues will be relevant in the fall.
His answer: The theme of “extremism versus solutions.” He added that he believes as many as 75 seats may be in play, although he stopped short of predicting that Democrats will recapture the 25 necessary to retake the chamber.