Democrats will not lose control of the single legislature they previously controlled if the early results win in some race-undecided states, a feat the president’s party hasn’t achieved in a midterm election since 1934 .
The victories undercut Republican plans to further curb abortion, transgender rights, school curricula and spending, and in some states widen the likelihood that Democrats will pass their own priorities.
Tim Brennan, a key district in Pennsylvania’s surging Democratic House, beat his Republican opponent by 5,000 votes, who worked for state lawmakers who opposed abortion rights and supported voting restrictions.
Brennan, 45, who lives in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, ran unsuccessfully in 2018, losing the primary by 55 votes. After the 2020 election, he served as an attorney for the local county, where Donald Trump challenged the election results. He attributed Tuesday’s victory to the fact that he knocked on 10,000 doors himself, 40,000 of which were knocked on by his campaign, and that voters were outraged by their distaste for extremist Republican candidates, especially Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Maas. Triano instead split their tickets.
“People tell me they want functioning government. They’re upset with the top votes in the Republican race. They’re upset with the election being voted down and losing options,” Brennan said, attributing the Democrats’ success. For “talking about functional government instead of going down these rabbit holes.”
Brennan is excited about the prospect of a Democratic House capable of forcing Senate Republicans to moderate on abortion, education and other issues.
“It’s one thing to be there and have your voice heard, but being the majority and having the opportunity to shape policy is something I’m really looking forward to,” he said.
With votes still being counted in some states, Republicans control both chambers of 26 state legislatures, down from 30 before the election. Democrats have full control of 19, up from 17 before Tuesday.
Former state Senator Daniel Squadron said: “Winning a few legislative races by a few votes means passing some of the toughest abortion laws, restrictions on elections, preventing a weakening of a state’s protections The difference between the ability to be violated by polluters.” From New York, founder of the super PAC the States Project, which helps fund some of the competitions.
The Democratic victory appeared to be propelled by a wave of liberal anger over a Supreme Court ruling that returned the power to determine abortion rights to state capitals, as well as a Trump-led effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
At polling places across the country on Tuesday, voters expressed dismay at soaring living costs but also said their biggest fear was extremism from a right-wing government.
For Matt Kroski, 43, who dislikes both major parties, voting against the candidate was all that mattered Tuesday — and these days, he said outside a Phoenix polling place, the Republican Partisans frightened him most.
“I’m looking for someone who fits more in the public eye, something that fits people, not something that fits their wallet,” he said.
In Grand Rapids, Cody Canfield, 30, who describes himself as an independent from the Democratic Party, said he voted largely because he supported a successful referendum to enshrine reproductive rights in Michigan’s constitution.
“I have a girlfriend that I’m marrying and I don’t want to put her life in danger just because someone says that,” he said. “Let her fear that this right will be taken away.”
The party has enjoyed unexpected legislative success after longtime staffers in places like the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) and other relative newcomers to the low-profile seldom got much help from the National Party.
Democrats have complained for years that while Republicans are targeting state legislative races with huge financial investments, their own party and its donors are focusing on higher-profile races whose candidates People are more compelling, even those doomed candidates. Last year’s redistricting, in which the Republican-controlled legislature was able to draw the map according to its own interests, served as another reminder of the stakes of ignoring these races.
“The state legislature is viewed as a minor league by national Democrats,” Squadron said. The midterm elections “prove that it’s their own game, and it’s one you have to watch.”
Squadron’s team has spent about $60 million on state legislative races, notably in Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania, the legislatures they believe are most likely to allow Republican lawmakers to overturn the presidential race , supporting Trump or other Republicans. Another Democratic PAC, Forward Majority, put in $20 million. The DLCC spent $50 million and its Republican counterpart, the Republican National Leadership Council, $30 million.
The combined budget is minuscule compared with the way Democratic donors are focusing on the Senate’s prospect race — Democrats who campaigned in Iowa, Maine and South Carolina two years ago raised $100,000 for their Senate races. Over $250 million in funding, and all three lost out by a wide margin.
Republicans did have reason to celebrate this week. In Kansas, they retain a veto-free supermajority in the legislature, allowing them to impose their will even after the incumbent Democratic governor’s term ends. Laura Kelly won re-election on Tuesday.
In Ohio, it’s not just the government. Mike DeWine (R) was re-elected in a landslide, but the Republican-controlled legislature maintains supermajorities in both chambers and could chart a very conservative course for years to come. In Texas, the governor. Greg Abbott was re-elected for a third term as fellow Republicans expanded their majority in the legislature. The party also gained ground in Iowa and South Carolina.
In Florida, as governor. Ron DeSantis (R) won a second term in a rout, with Republicans gaining outright majorities in both legislatures, the largest in a decade.
“Florida’s days as a swing state are over,” said Dee Duncan, chairman of the Republican legislative campaign group.
But Republicans’ hopes for a gubernatorial and Senate trifecta in several other states were dashed. They tried unsuccessfully to win supermajorities in the North Carolina and Wisconsin state legislatures that would oust their Democratic governors.
In Nevada, where votes are still being counted, experts say Democrats can keep their legislative majority despite Gov. Trump’s loss. Steve Sisolak (D). A coalition of Democrats and members of the state’s Progressive Party maintains a solid majority in the legislature despite Vermont’s re-election as Republican governor. The race for Arizona governor and legislature remains close.
Some of the Democratic victories have come after redistricting battles that ended on more favorable lines than the gerrymandering of the past decade, either through the power of Democratic governors to have a voice or through opposition to Republicans. Successful legal challenge on the map drawn by the party.
“A fair map is everything,” said Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Holtman of the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.
Democrats outside the blue cities of Minnesota have also received targeted help from Democrats in safe areas, Holtman said. Somali US State Rep. Mohammad Noor or St. Paul contacted Somali voters in St. Petersburg. Cloud also connects them with volunteers and fundraisers on behalf of state representatives. And then Volgamot. He eventually won re-election by 540 votes.
“Everything he did to help us overcome the language barrier helped us win,” Holtman said. “That’s how we have to govern. We’re going to have all kinds of opinions. We’re a big marquee party.”
In Michigan, the Democratic takeover benefited from Whitmer’s re-election loss, a huge advantage in a referendum that included reproductive rights in the state constitution, and district lines drawn by nonpartisan commissions.
Republican candidates in the Democratic race have also taken some extreme positions, such as denying the results of the 2020 presidential election, prompting many voters to overcome concerns about the economy under President Biden.
“It’s really leaning into the culture wars, and voters are tired of it,” the senator said. Mallory McMorrow (D) said. Last spring, after a colleague accused her of “bringing up” children, McMorrow drew national attention with a viral speech denouncing the GOP’s “empty, hateful program” on LGBTQ rights.
“Inflation and gas prices will change, but the loss of basic rights will never go away.”
McMorrow, 36, noted that for the first time in her lifetime, a Democrat has taken full control of Lansing’s levers of power.
Democrats in Pennsylvania have dominated the biggest race in more than two decades, winning five of six gubernatorial races by landslides. The Democratic candidate has won seven of the past eight presidential races.
Democrats, however, are largely powerless in Harrisburg, as Republicans have completely controlled the legislature in 24 of the past 28 years. In 2010, the Democratic majority in the state legislature was eliminated.
This year, state Democrats in Harrisburg are convincing voters of the implications of legislative elections — including putting the voting age on the ballot next year by Republicans Raised to 21 years old.
Republicans there used their majorities in the House and Senate to pass the package. By law, Democratic governors cannot veto amendments.
The package will go to a second ballot early next year and, if passed, next spring. Now House Democrats plan to block it.
“That’s why flipping the chamber is so important and historic,” the Rep. said. Leanne Krueger, chair of the state House Democratic campaign committee.
Even given Harrisburg’s new makeup, it’s unclear how many Democrats will be able to overturn the Republican initiative, since conservatives still control the state Senate. For someone like Squadron, however, being able to hold back some of the Republican effort is a huge win in itself.
The stakes are escalating as the Supreme Court decides to hear a case this semester that some conservative legal scholars believe could lead to the legislature, rather than the popular vote, deciding which candidate wins the state’s presidential electoral vote.
When state program staffers began working on the campaign, it targeted 73 specific campaigns in key presidential swing states, Squadron said, with the aim of overturning enough legislatures to thwart any attempt to overturn the 2024 presidential election. s hard work.
He sees their efforts as a belated response to conservatives like the billionaire Koch family, whose political network has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into shaping national campaigns and policies.
“They get it,” Squadron told reporters at a briefing Thursday, referring to the Koch family.
Senator Mike Morrow of Michigan listed funding for schools, protecting the Great Lakes and supporting voting rights protections as top priorities for the state’s NDP legislature.
In Wednesday’s farewell news conference, Walz and other top Minnesota Democrats spoke of a cautious agenda — given their one-seat advantage in the Senate — but they also plan to codify abortion rights, legalize marijuana progress in standardizing and expanding paid payments for family leave.
That’s wonderful for Squadron, because Squadron only spent $3 million in Minnesota and $16 million in Michigan.
“The return on investment has been unbelievable,” he said.
Hennessy-Fiske reported from Houston and Kane from Washington.