"It has become a Category 5 political hurricane."
That was Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the Republicans' House campaign committee, describing what he saw as the impact of the health care law--and its botched rollout--on the 2014 elections.
"2014 will be about the president's health care law. I believe it more than ever," he told the Monitor Breakfast, a group of Washington-based reporters.
Republicans now hold 231 of the 435 House of Representatives seats. 218 constitute a majority. Most independent analysts think Republicans will retain that majority in 2014.
Walden, R-Oregon, made no predictions about how many seats his party could gain or lose. He was effusive about the health care law's woes, and said the election would be a "referendum on the failures of this administration and (its) philosophy."
But trouble could lurk. Many mainstream Republicans face nominating challenges from more conservative, and Tea Party-backed candidates. And party officials have conceded Republicans need to shed their image as a party of largely white, often too conservative, voters.
Walden said he was unconcerned. Even where there are tough nominating fights, he noted, the districts are still likely to go Republican in the general election. Democrats, on the other hand, can only get a majority back by winning in Republican-dominated areas.