Royal Oak Tribune
GOP retain power in states despite Dem push
JEFFERSON CITY, MO. » After a costly and intense political battle for control of state capitols, the composition of state legislatures and governors’ offices will look a lot like it did before Tuesday’s elections.
That means Republicans will again control significantly more states than Democrats, giving the GOP greater power over the once-a-decade task of redrawing congressional and legislative districts based on census results as well as a continued platform to push for conservative economic and social policies.
“When you look at state legislative races, a lot of money got spent, a lot of turnout was had, and yet the end result was pretty much where we started,” said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “This was a status quo election.”
Heading into Tuesday, Republicans had full control of 29 state legislatures compared to 19 for Democrats. The GOP also held 26 governors’ offices while the Democrats had 24.
The GOP governors’ count grew by one as Montana voters elected U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Republicans also appeared to flip control of the New Hampshire House and Senate, according to tracking by the NCSL and national Republican and Democratic groups.
Control of the Republican-led Arizona House and Senate — which ranked among the Democrats’ top prospects for flipping chambers — remained undecided because of some close races.
If the Arizona chambers don’t flip, the 2020 elections could produce the smallest number of changes in chamber control since the 1944 general election, Underhill said.
Democrats, who began the campaign cycle with a “flip everything” motto, acknowledged their disappointment while pinning the blame partly on their failures of a decade ago. In the 2010 elections, Republicans flipped 21 legislative chambers while sweeping into office in many state capitols. They then used that newfound power in some states to draw voting districts that benefitted GOP candidates in future elections.
“The reality is we are still running on very gerrymandered maps,” said Christina Polizzi, national press secretary for the
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. She added: “As a party, we are still paying for the losses of 2010.”
After being outspent by Republicans a decade ago, Democrats ramped up their efforts to win back chambers ahead of the next round of redistricting. The DLCC and four other Democraticaligned groups combined to raise more than $100 million this election cycle. They were countered by the Republican state leadership committee, which had a target of about $70 million.