A source close to the Trump administration said Republican Ed Gillespie losing Virginia’s gubernatorial race did not come as a shock to Trump allies, but the margin by which he lost did. Trump allies expressed concern over text messages as the results rolled in, the source said.

Republicans talk about the election as “a referendum” on Trump, as Virginia GOP Rep. Scott Taylor put it. And so, they say, congressional Republicans need to find a way to localize their races, to separate their own personal brand from that of the the president. And that means they have to pass something — anything — and prove that they can actually govern.

Trump “will be the issue until we do what we said we’d do. And when we do what we said we’d do, then we stand a chance to be competitive,” said Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, who chaired the House Republican campaign arm during the 2010 Republican wave.