Dems Take Full Control in 3 More States

 
  WHAT CHANGED IN STATE LEGISLATURES
Click here for a complete list of legislative seats for all 99 chambers
(Updated 5:00 p.m. EST, Nov. 10, 2008)

Democrats emerged from Election Day gaining control over more state governments, and they now dominate both the legislature and governor's office in 17 states, compared to just eight for Republicans.
  
The party, which swept into the White House and padded its majorities in Congress, also won complete control of Delaware, New York and Wisconsin state governments in Tuesday's (Nov. 4) contests - results that could bring big policy changes in those states and others. The GOP, meanwhile, lost its grip on Missouri and Alaska and is within 25 votes of losing full control of Texas, too.
  
The Democrats now control 60 of the state's 98 partisan legislative chambers, up from 57 before the election (Nebraska's unicameral Legislature is officially non-partisan). Democrats have won legislative chambers every year since 2003.
  
This year, they picked up the Delaware House, New York Senate, Nevada Senate, Ohio House and Wisconsin Assembly and tied the Alaska Senate. They may have tied the previously Republican Montana House, although results are still incomplete. The Democrats also secured veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Connecticut and all but eliminated the remaining Republican opposition in the Hawaii , Massachusetts and Rhode Island legislatures.
  
"This cycle was very different for us," said Matt Compton, a spokesman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee . "In many ways we were consolidating what we've already gained."
  
Compton pointed to increased Democratic majorities in the closely divided Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania Houses.
  
The bright spots for Republicans on Election Day were Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Republicans took over the state senates - which had both been evenly divided - in Oklahoma and Tennessee. They took over the Montana Senate and Tennessee House, which had previously been in Democratic hands. All three states have Democratic governors.
  
Republicans also noted they cut into Democratic majorities in the North Carolina Senate and the New Hampshire House and fended off Democratic efforts to take over the chambers in Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota.
  
"We saw in 2006 and 2008 that our candidates were successful by keeping their campaigns focused on local issues… (They) are running on what they're going to do and what they've done, not by labeling" their opponents, said Carrie Cantrell, spokeswoman for the Republican State Leadership Committee .
 
The 2008 elections gave Democrats control of the governor?s office and both legislative chambers in 17 states, up from 14, while Republicans control eight, down from ten.
After Democrats took complete control of the Iowa and New Hampshire state governments in the 2006 elections, they quickly raised the minimum wage in both states.
  
Iowa lawmakers hiked cigarette taxes by $1 a pack to pay for health programs, while New Hampshire legislators used their newfound power to push through a historic civil union bill that gives same-sex couples the same state-level rights as under marriage laws.
 
In New York, Democrats control the executive and legislative branches for the first time since the Great Depression. The shift could mean changes in laws on everything from rent control in New York City to school funding, strict drug laws and gay marriage, said Robert Ward, deputy director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute on State Government .
  
With the current financial crisis, Democratic lawmakers from New York City may want to give the city government authority to raise taxes. Now it can raise only property taxes on its own. Upstate communities, too, could look for more flexibility on Medicaid spending, Ward said.
  
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) told Wisconsin Radio Network he would take advantage of the Democrats' new majority in the state Assembly to push for new regulations of child care providers and for a law requiring health insurers to cover autism treatments.
  
In Delaware, Gov.-elect Jack Markell (D) has called for scrapping the state's standardized tests for school kids and working to reduce poverty.
  
Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge (R) said Republicans picked up seats in his chamber and took over the Oklahoma Senate for the first time in state history by pushing a "pro-growth agenda" of cutting taxes, improving the state's roads and bridges and demanding fiscal discipline. Under Republican control, Republicans will press for measures to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system and to "totally do away with frivolous lawsuits," he said.
 
Tennessee Republicans, with majorities in the House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction, can now replace the secretary of state, comptroller and treasurer, because the General Assembly appoints those positions.
  
The once-a-decade redrawing of district maps used to elect legislators and members of Congress are also affected by who controls legislative chambers. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures , 642 state legislators chosen Tuesday still will be in office for the 2010 redistricting.
 
Bill Lunch, a political science professor at Oregon State University, said Democrats' bigger majorities in the Oregon House and Senate will help them set the state's agenda.
  
"If Democrats can sustain their majorities in the state legislature, they will have control over redistricting" in 2011, he said. The same is true of Republicans in states where the GOP has the edge, he said.
  
But just because a party wins a majority of seats in a chamber doesn't guarantee they'll control the agenda. A Republican has served as the speaker of the Pennsylvania House for the last two years, even though the Democrats have a slim majority there. Likewise, a "working group" of break-off Republicans and the Democratic minority control the Alaska Senate.
  
Similar intrigue could emerge in the New York Senate and the Texas House. Four New York Senate Democrats have split with their caucus leader, possibly giving Republicans an opening to form an alliance to control the chamber.
  
And Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick has feuded with fellow Republicans. Preliminary results show Republicans holding a 76-74 advantage after the elections, but in one race, a Democratic challenger is losing by just 25 votes out of 40,000 cast and more than 280 provisional ballots have not yet been counted, according to the The Dallas Morning News . Democrats are trying to seize control of the gavel by allying with Republicans.
  
Democrats will control both legislative chambers in 27 states, up from 23 currently. Republicans will control both chambers in 14 states, the same number they now hold, according to NCSL tallies.
  
There were legislative elections in 44 states with a total of 5,824 seats up for grabs in Tuesday's election, according to NCSL. That represents 79 percent of the 7,382 total legislative seats in the United States.

Eleven state attorneys general were also on the ballot this year, but Election Day resulted in no pickups for either political party. In Pennsylvania, Democratic challenger John Morganelli gave incumbent Republican Tom Corbett a scare before Corbett narrowly secured re-election. West Virginia Democrat Darrell McGraw edged Republican challenger Dan Greear. In Ohio, Republicans could not capture the seat once held by Democrat Marc Dann, who resigned over a sex scandal in May. Democratic state Treasurer Richard Cordray defeated U.S. attorney Michael Crites for the job.

Four states besides Ohio elected new attorneys general, generally considered the second-most powerful position in state government. Indianans chose Republican Greg Zoeller. Montanans chose Democrat Steve Bullock. Democrat John Kroger faced no Republican opponent in Oregon while in Missouri, Democrat Chris Koster replaced Jay Nixon, who was elected governor. Nationally, Democrats control 31 attorney general offices and Republicans hold 19.

36 Republican chambers 60 Democratic chambers 2 Split chambers 1 Nebraska has a unicameral, nonpartisan legislature

 
Senate
 
House / Assembly
State
Total
Dem
Rep
Indep
Vacant
Seats up
 
Total
Dem
Rep
Indep
Vacant
Seats up
 
Alabama
35
22
13
0
0
none
 
105
62
43
0
0
none
 
Alaska
20
10 ( 1)
10 (-1)
0
0
10
 
40
18 ( 1)
22 (-1)
0
0
40
 
Arizona
30
12 (-1)
18 ( 1)
0
0
30
 
60
25 (-2)
35 ( 2)
0
0
60
 
Arkansas
35
27
8
0
0
18
 
100
72 (-3)
27 ( 1)
1 ( 1)
0
100
 
California
40
26 ( 1)
14 (-1)
0
0
20
 
80
50 ( 2)
30 (-2)
0
0
80
 
Colorado
35
21 ( 1)
14 (-1)
0
0
17
 
65
38 (-2)
27 ( 2)
0
0
65
 
Connecticut
36
24 ( 1)
12 (-1)
0
0
36
 
151
113 ( 6)
38 (-6)
0
0
151
 
Delaware
21
15 ( 2)
6 (-2)
0
0
11
 
41
25 ( 6)
16 (-6)
0
0
41
 
Florida
40
14
26
0
0
20
 
120
44 ( 2)
76 (-1)
0
0 (-1)
120
 
Georgia
56
22
34
0
0
56
 
180
74 ( 1)
106 (-1)
0
0
180
 
Hawaii
25
23 ( 2)
2 (-2)
0
0
12
 
51
45 ( 1)
6 (-1)
0
0
51
 
Idaho
35
7
28
0
0
35
 
70
18 (-1)
52 ( 2)
0
0
70
 
Illinois
59
37
22
0
0
39
 
118
70 ( 3)
48 (-3)
0
0
118
 
Indiana
50
17
33
0
0
25
 
100
52 ( 1)
48 (-1)
0
0
100
 
Iowa
50
31 ( 1)
19 (-1)
0
0
25
 
100
57 ( 4)
43 (-4)
0
0
100
 
Kansas
40
9 (-1)
31 ( 1)
0
0
40
 
125
48 ( 1)
77 (-1)
0
0
125
 
Kentucky
38
15
22
1
0
19
 
100
65 ( 2)
35 (-1)
0
0 (-1)
100
 
Louisiana
39
23
16
0
0
none
 
105
52 ( 1)
50 ( 1)
3
0 (-2)
 
 
Maine
35
20 ( 2)
15 (-2)
0
0
35
 
151
96 ( 6)
54 (-5)
1 (-1)
0
151
 
Maryland
47
33
14
0
0
none
 
141
104
37
0
0
none
 
Massachusetts
40
35
5
0
0
40
 
160
144 ( 3)
15 (-4)
1 ( 1)
0
160
 
Michigan
38
17
21
0
0
none
 
110
67 ( 9)
43 (-9)
0
0
110
 
Minnesota
67
45
22
0
0
2**
 
134
87 ( 2)
47 (-1)
0 (-1)
0
134
 
Mississippi
52
27
25
0
0
none
 
122
75
47
0
0
none
 
Missouri
34
11 (-3)
23 ( 3)
0
0
17
 
163
74 ( 3)
89 (-3)
0
0
163
 
Montana
50
23 (-3)
27 ( 3)
0
0
25
 
100
50 ( 1)
50
0 (-1)
0
100
 
Nebraska
49
non-partisan legislature
25
 
Nebraska has no lower house
 
Nevada
21
12 ( 2)
9 (-2)
0
0
10
 
42
28 ( 1)
14 (-1)
0
0
42
 
New Hampshire
24
14
10
0
0
24
 
400
224 (-12)
176 ( 17)
0 (-1)
0 (-4)
400
 
New Jersey
40
23
17
0
0
none
 
80
48
32
0
0
none
 
New Mexico
42
27 ( 3)
15 (-3)
0
0
42
 
70
45 ( 3)
25 (-3)
0
0
70
 
New York
62
32 ( 2)
30 (-2)
0
0
62
 
150
110 ( 2)
40 (-2)
0
0
150
 
North Carolina
50
30 (-1)
20 ( 1)
0
0
50
 
120
68
52
0
0
120
 
North Dakota
47
21
26
0
0
23
 
94
36 ( 3)
58 (-3)
0
0
46
 
Ohio
33
12
21
0
0
16
 
99
53 ( 7)
46 (-7)
0
0
99
 
Oklahoma
48
22 (-2)
26 ( 2)
0
0
24
 
101
40 (-4)
61 ( 4)
0
0
101
 
Oregon
30
18
12 ( 1)
0 (-1)
0
15
 
60
37 ( 6)
23 (-6)
0
0
60
 
Pennsylvania*
50
20 (-1*)
29
0
0
25
 
203
104 ( 2)
99 (-2)
0
0
203
 
Rhode Island
38
33 ( 1)
4 (-1)
1 ( 1)
0 (-1)
38
 
75
70 ( 9)
5 (-8)
0 (-1)
0
75
 
South Carolina
46
19
27
0
0
46
 
124
53 ( 2)
71 (-1)
0
0 (-1)
124
 
South Dakota
35
15
19 (-1)
1 ( 1)
0
35
 
70
24 ( 4)
46 (-4)
0
0
70
 
Tennessee
33
14 (-2)
19 ( 3)
0 (-1)
0
16
 
99
49 (-4)
50 ( 4)
0
0
99
 
Texas*
31
12 ( 1)
18 (-2*)
0
0
15
 
150
74 ( 3)
76 (-3)
0
0
150
 
Utah
29
8
21
0
0
14
 
75
22 ( 2)
53 (-2)
0
0
75
 
Vermont
30
23
7
0
0
30
 
150
95 ( 2)
48 (-1)
7 (-1)
0
150
 
Virginia
40
21
19
0
0
none
 
100
45
53
2
0
none
 
Washington
49
31 (-1)
18 ( 1)
0
0
25
 
98
64 ( 1)
34 (-1)
0
0
98
 
West Virginia
34
26 ( 3)
8 (-3)
0
0
17
 
100
79 ( 7)
21 (-7)
0
0
100
 
Wisconsin
33
18
15
0
0
16
 
99
52 ( 5)
46 (-6)
1 ( 1)
0
99
 
Wyoming
30
7
23
0
0
15
 
60
19 ( 2)
41 (-2)
0
0
60

States not having statehouse elections are: Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia.
*Both Pennsylvania and Texas have one state Senate race each which remains too close to call.
**MInnesota held two special elections for state Senate. 
 
X

Related Stories

PCS.PRODUCTION.1.20140221.1210 (PEWSUWVMWAPP01)