Walden, pictured here with his mentor Sessions, right, will succeed the Texas Republican as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Walden also noted there could be some surprise districts targeted. The fact that his Oregon Democratic colleague Rep. Kurt Schrader won with only 54 percent of the vote against “a completely unfunded, unknown Republican” did not escape Walden’s eye.
Fundraising, as always, will be a key to success. Walden already has experience articulating why the NRCC is a worthy investment.
“Greg went and sold the fight to K Street,” Sessions said. “We have convinced this town that the program that the NRCC has is among the best programs in the country, and he is going to make that better.”
Both acknowledged that there were places where the NRCC did not succeed.
Sessions admitted that Republicans had fallen short on getting Hispanic voters to cast their ballots for Republican candidates in 2012.
“We do recognize that this was a frail point this cycle,” the outgoing chairman said. “We will do a better job.”
And Republicans came up dry in every district in New England.
Pressed on those defeats, Walden said despite the good campaigns many candidates ran, perhaps some of those New England seats just weren’t possible with President Barack Obama on the ticket. But Walden said that in a midterm there might be more opportunities for success.
Blue State Republicans
Walden, wearing a navy Petrocelli suit and red elephant tie, is easygoing and has a dry wit.
“There’s a big debate among the Oregon Republican delegation from day to day,” he deadpanned at one point in the interview.
Walden is the only Republican member from the Beaver State.
A former Capitol Hill press secretary, Walden chooses his words carefully and speaks in short, thoughtful sentences. He’s very close with Boehner and well-liked in the caucus.
And insiders said he has that most important of attributes for someone in charge of the dizzying three-dimensional chess game that is running a House campaign committee: Walden is not easily fazed.
“Greg is very even-keeled. He’s impossible to ruffle,” said Brad Todd, a top Republican strategist who works closely with the NRCC. “I think that that provides a pretty steady leadership.”
Walden declined to say whom he was eyeing for the NRCC’s executive director. A decision is expected soon.
He hinted though at what he was looking for in NRCC staff as he fills out the positions in the committee for the 2014 cycle: no squares.
“I want creative people who will think outside the box,” he said.
Walden telegraphed his leadership style of not being a micromanager, learned from years of running a small business.
“I believe in hiring really talented people, giving them the vision and then letting them do their jobs,” he said.
In a GOP with different factions, Walden is expected to be able navigate all of them.
“Members of all stripes in the conference trust him,” Todd said.
And his experience with the NRCC over the past four years appears to leave him well-qualified for the two years ahead.
That Eagle Scout badge both Walden and Sessions earned in their youth is of simple design. It has an eagle with the initials of the Boy Scouts of America; red, white, and blue fabric; and two words: Be Prepared.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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