CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- House Speaker John Boehner today voiced confidence in Chris Collins and other Republican House candidates from New York, but warned that the Republican Party will have to work hard to get them elected.
"Whether it's up in Buffalo, up in the North Country, in Rochester or the east end of Long Island, we have candidates that can win," Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Speaking to the New York delegation at a breakfast, Boehner stressed, though, that candidates such as Collins, who is challenging Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, face a disadvantage.
They are running in what he calls "orphan districts," where the presidential campaign will not be hard fought and where "there's no significant Senate race under way."
While Wendy Long, the GOP opponent to Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, may not like to hear that, Boehner kept his focus on the House -- and the trouble those strong candidates could face because of voter disinterest.
"If we don't have a real ground game in each of those districts, we're going to get blown away," Boehner warned.
To prevent that from happening, Republicans have set up 10 "victory centers" that are identifying and registering likely Republican voters, and that will work to turn them out on Election Day, Boehner added.
The speaker also couldn't resist taking a jab at Rep. Anthony Weiner, the Brooklyn Democrat who resigned last year after Tweeting lewd images of himself to women he met online.
Recalling the difficulty of his own first race for Congress, Boehner noted that voters struggled with his last name.
"Beaner? Bonner? Boner?" Boehner said. "At least it wasn't Weiner."