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August 11, 2014 / needhamgrassroots

Midterms and Legislatures REALLY Matter

legislaturesFrom the NYT – Republicans, who had appeared to hit a high-water mark in control of statehouses in recent years, are seeking to pick off another half-dozen chambers this year, taking advantage of President Obama’s persistent unpopularity, anxiety about the economy, and a history of anemic turnout among Democrats in nonpresidential election years. In addition, the party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in statehouses in those years.

….statehouses are using their authority to push through ambitious policies that by contrast highlight the paralysis in Washington, the potential for further Republican gains has raised the possibility of deepening the policy divide between red and blue states.

Republicans now control 59 of the 99 partisan legislative chambers, and have complete political control — both legislative houses and the governor’s mansion — in 23 states, while Democrats control 13.

The total number of states ruled by a single political party, 36, is the highest in six decades.

Officials from both parties say there are two states that the Republicans might be able to add to the list of places where they enjoy complete control — Iowa and Arkansas. (There are no similar opportunities for Democrats.)

Given that, Republicans this year are also looking to pick off individual chambers as a way of increasing their negotiating ability with Democratic governors and statehouses, or to block Democrats from passing legislation.

…They hope these victories will help them push through legislation that has been stymied by Democrats until now, such as pressing the kind of restrictions on labor organizing the party passed in Wisconsin, or rolling back gun laws in Colorado. In Iowa, Republicans are looking to eliminate a tax on manufacturing and enact a ban there on telemedicine abortions, where women in rural areas obtain abortion pills after videoconference consultations with faraway doctors.

Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is spearheading the statehouse efforts, said, “The pattern is crystal-clear at this point, and Wisconsin is the best example of it: That ability to drive your agenda when you are completely in control of state government will absolutely continue to play out.”

Mr. Walter said even picking up a house in a divided state was critical at a time when both parties are so ambitious. “The ability to restrain the other side from advancing their agenda very often comes down to a couple of seats in one chamber,” he said.

… This looming battle is a reminder of the enduring political import of the 2010 midterm elections, in which Republicans, powered by the Tea Party and anger over Mr. Obama’s health care program, picked up control of 23 state legislatures. These were the legislatures that oversaw redrawing legislative and congressional district lines in most states, typically in favor of the party in power, which has only enhanced their electoral prospects this year.

READ THE REST: Midterms Give Parties Chance for Sweeping Control of States – NYTimes.com – 8/11/2014 – http://bit.ly/1ri4D4l

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