Dems strive to tighten their hold in sev­eral states

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By An­drew Sel­sky

IN­DE­PEN­DENCE, ORE. » Un­fazed by signs banning so­lic­it­ing and dogs that barked at her in al­most ev­ery home she vis­ited, a po­lit­i­cal new­bie knocked on doors, handed out cam­paign fly­ers and asked vot­ers to elect her to the Ore­gon Se­nate.

Deb Patterson, who can­vassed in the river­side town of In­de­pen­dence on a re­cent Sat­ur­day, hopes to win the May 15 pri­mary and un­seat four-term Repub­li­can Sen. Jackie Win­ters in Novem­ber. A win could pro­pel Democrats into a “supermajority” in the Leg­is­la­ture, with the abil­ity to in­crease state rev­enue with­out Repub­li­can sup­port.

Democrats buoyed by anti-Trump po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism want to wrest con­trol of leg­is­la­tures from Re­pub­li­cans, but they’re also striv­ing to tighten their hold in states where they have an edge — or where con­trol is split — in or­der to pass leg­is­la­tion rang­ing from gun con­trol to health care and from tax­a­tion to cam­paign fi­nance re­form.

Re­pub­li­cans also con­sider these states bat­tle­grounds. In Ore­gon, a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee called No Su­per­ma­jori­ties has re­ceived a $5,000 con­tri­bu­tion from Koch In­dus­tries, the Kansas-based en­ergy con­glom­er­ate of bil­lion­aire brothers Charles and David Koch who ad­vo­cate for con­ser­va­tive causes.

“If even one Repub­li­can loses re-elec­tion in Novem­ber 2018, there is no telling what kind of new taxes Demo­cratic lead­ers might push through,” the PAC’s web­site pro­claims.

A supermajority is a level that ex­ceeds the thresh­old to pro­duce a ma­jor­ity.

In Ore­gon, Democrats need just one more seat in the Se­nate and one in the House to reach a three­fifths supermajority in both cham­bers. That would give them a bet­ter shot at in­creas­ing cor­po­rate taxes in a state where cor­po­ra­tions pay one of the low­est rates in the na­tion.

“We con­tinue to have a pat­tern where fam­i­lies pay more into the tax sys­tem to sup­port state ser­vices than do cor­po­ra­tions and busi­nesses,” said Jeanne Atkins, chair of the Demo­cratic Party of Ore­gon. “With a supermajority maybe there’s a bet­ter chance, but of course the devil is al­ways in the de­tails.”

Atkins called Patterson “a se­ri­ous can­di­date” who’s among those who might take seats from Re­pub­li­cans. Patterson is a ru­ral church a pas­tor at who has worked as a health care ad­vo­cate and never held elected of­fice. But af­ter Don­ald Trump was elected pres­i­dent in 2016 and threat­ened the Af­ford­able Care Act, Patterson was so up­set that she de­cided to en­ter pol­i­tics.

“I’m run­ning for of­fice be­cause the last elec­tion took me by sur­prise, and I re­al­ized that peo­ple had to get ac­tive and get in­volved,” Patterson said af­ter spend­ing a morn­ing knock­ing on doors. “We have to stand up at the state level to push back against the changes that are com­ing at the fed­eral level.”

Head­ing into the 2018 elec­tions, Re­pub­li­cans con­trol 32 state leg­is­la­tures, Democrats 13, and four are split between the par­ties, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures. Ne­braska, unique among U.S. states, is uni­cam­eral and

For their part, Re­pub­li­cans hope to snatch seats away from Democrats in Novem­ber.

“Re­pub­li­cans have proven with the right can­di­date and right poli­cies they can win in his­tor­i­cally ad­verse ar­eas,” said David James of the Repub­li­can State Lead­er­ship Com­mit­tee.

In New York, Democrats dom­i­nate the state As­sem­bly. On Tues­day, they won two Se­nate seats in spe­cial elec­tions, leav­ing them one short of con­trol­ling that cham­ber. In the­ory they have a one-seat ad­van­tage, but a Demo­crat con­sis­tently sides with Re­pub­li­cans. If Democrats gain an­other Se­nate seat in Novem­ber, they can more eas­ily push lib­eral pri­or­i­ties like gun con­trol, ad­vance vot­ing and cam­paign fi­nance re­form.

Sen. An­drea Ste­wartCousins, of­fi­cially non­par­ti­san. leader of the Se­nate Democrats, said of Tues­day’s elec­tions: “These elec­toral wins are part of the ‘blue wave’ sweep­ing our state and na­tion which will help even more Se­nate Demo­cratic can­di­dates win in the up­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion.”

In Colorado, Democrats con­trol the House and are one seat away from flip­ping the Se­nate. If they suc­ceed, and hang onto the gov­er­nor­ship, health care would be a pri­or­ity, with sin­gle­payer or Med­i­caid for all at the top of the agenda. They would also try to strengthen gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion and undo sev­eral con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that se­verely re­strict spend­ing.


In this photo, Deb Patterson pre­pares to can­vass in In­de­pen­dence, Ore.. hoping to win the Ore­gon May 15 pri­mary and un­seat four-term Repub­li­can Sen. Jackie Win­ters in Novem­ber. A win could pro­pel Democrats into a “supermajority” in the Ore­gon...


In this file photo, New York Se­nate Demo­cratic Con­fer­ence Leader An­drea Ste­wart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in New York.


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