11/9/2017 11:05:00 AM Democrats see gov, legislative wins as momentum for 2018 state elections
(AP) — Democratic victories in Virginia and key gains in other 2017 state legislative races have lifted Democratic hopes of even bigger wins in next year’s midterm elections, as they seek a greater voice in how political districts will be redrawn for the decade to come.
Democrats won the governors’ offices in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday, erased a previously dominant Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and won a special election that gave them control of the Washington state Senate.
All told, Democrats flipped about two dozen state legislative seats around the country Tuesday and have now gained at least 30 seats previously held by Republicans since President Donald Trump won election last year, reversing several years of Republican momentum.
“In general, this is a rebuke of Republican governance of states,” said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. She added: “The other thing it said is we can win all across the country.”
The fight for control of legislative chambers matters not only for policies on health care, taxes and education, but also because the legislature in most states determines how future congressional and state legislative districts are drawn. The next round of redistricting will take place after the 2020 Census, and both parties are focused on controlling as many states as possible by then.
Republicans swept to power in many states in the 2010 elections, just in time to use their new authority during the last round of redistricting. Since then, Republicans have gained more than 900 state legislative seats nationwide.
This year’s Democratic victories are “a very small step forward” by comparison and have largely come in “seats, that by all rights, they probably should have had already,” said Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee.
Heading into Tuesday’s elections, Republicans controlled more than two-thirds of all state legislative chambers, including full control of both chambers and the governor’s office in about two dozen states. By comparison, Democrats had complete control in only a half-dozen states. Just five states had legislatures where each party controlled one chamber, and several of those involved bipartisan coalitions.