For the Week of 1/5/2018
Democrats in statehouses across the country are fighting to move America forward. In case you missed it, here are some statehouse highlights from this week:
In 2017 special elections the DLCC and state Democrats claimed victories stretching from coast to coast, instituting a Democratic trifecta in Washington, flipping legislative seats in red states like Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Georgia, and closing the margin in the Virginia House by flipping 15 seats despite a GOP-gerrymandered map (bringing the current split to 51R – 49D). With anti-GOP sentiment rising and Democrats more motivated than ever, the DLCC is looking forward to working with our legislative leaders and providing unrivaled campaign expertise, access to data, strong field operations and training opportunities, a comprehensive arsenal of tools and resources, and whatever it takes to win.
DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post spoke with PBS NewsHour about the committee’s recent victories, 2018 strategies, and the importance of winning back chambers ahead of 2020 redistricting. The DLCC and state Democrats are a mere 13 seats away from flipping seven chambers: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Since Trump’s inauguration, we have flipped 33 seats from red to blue in contested legislative elections across the country and our legislators have worked to pass responsible, progressive, and forward-thinking legislation to benefit and serve Americans from all walks of life. With federal Democrats in the minority and fair district maps on the line, the election of state Democrats has never been more important or more central to the survival of our core American values and our democracy. The DLCC looks forward to continuing our work to strengthen and rebuild the Democratic party from the ground up.
This November, seats in 87 of 99 state legislative chambers will be on the ballot and the DLCC and state Democrats are ready to keep our winning momentum going strong. Since Trump’s inauguration, state Democrats have flipped a whopping 33 seats from red to blue in contested legislative elections while Republicans have only managed to flip three the other way. The recent Virginia election was a prime example of Democrats’ enthusiasm to fight back against Trump and state Republicans– we had more Democrats step up to run for the Virginia House than ever before and almost half of our candidates were women, another high-watermark. Pending recounts and possible legal action in the state, Virginia Democrats still have a shot at ending Republicans’ nearly two-decade long grip over the chamber. The DLCC will continue to build out our successful programs and expand our target map in 2018 as we fight to regain chambers ahead of critical 2020 redistricting.
One of the most critical political concerns in recent memory is set to play out in courtrooms across the nation this year as over a dozen cases spotlighting Republicans’ use of partisan and racial gerrymandering to rig elections make their way through the judicial system in 2018. Two cases could turn out to be among the most important decisions of this decade, with potential ramifications for Republican-drawn maps across the United States. One such case is Gill v. Whitford out of Wisconsin which could set a precedent for challenging maps drawn with malicious and partisan intentions. More than 800 state senators will be elected in 2018 who will be responsible for drawing legislative and congressional maps in 2021. The DLCC is closely tracking redistricting cases and looking for opportunities where we can make a difference through litigation.
One recount and game of chance later, Virginia Republican and incumbent state Del. David Yancey was named the “winner” in the saga that is House District 94. Yesterday Yancey’s name was plucked out of a bowl to break the tie between him and Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds. While Nov. 7 election results initially named Yancey the winner by a mere 10 votes, a recount proved Simonds the rightful winner – by a single vote – and shifted chamber control away from Republicans for the first time in 17 years. However, at the last minute, Yancey and state Republicans pleaded to a panel of judges that a single ballot – deemed an overvote by the recount committee and discarded – be counted in favor of Yancey, thus the tie. Simonds still has the option to ask for an additional recount where the single contested ballot could be thrown out by a different panel of judges. While this is certainly not the outcome we wanted, the DLCC congratulates Shelly Simonds on a hard-fought campaign and commends her on her continued dedication to protecting health care access and improving the lives of Virginians. Pending the outcome of legal challenges in HD-28, where on Nov. 7 over 147 voters were given the wrong ballots, Virginia Democrats still have a shot at breaking Republicans’ majority in the chamber. The DLCC will remain on the ground and actively involved in HD-28 Democratic candidate Joshua Cole’s mission to ensure every voice is heard.
- Virginia voting mess was never supposed to happen after Bush vs. Gore [The New York Times]
- Races for governor, state legislature key for redistricting [Associated Press]
- Guide to Your Local Election Ballot [Teen Vogue]
- Trump has disbanded his voter fraud commission, blaming state resistance [Vox]
- Bullets, ballots and babies: A look at new state laws coming in 2018 [FOX News]
"I wanted to prevent national, Trump-like policies from coming into my own backyard and harming my friends and neighbors. I saw Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly voting to defund Planned Parenthood and refusing to expand affordable access to health care for those who need it. As an active community member, I ran because I thought I would be a better advocate for women and families in my state."
- Newly elected Virginia Democratic Delegate Hala Ayala on what motivated her to run and become one of the first two Latina women to serve in the state’s House of Delegates.
1/9/18: ELECTION DAY - Connecticut HD-15 Special Election
1/16/18: ELECTION DAY - Iowa HD-06 Special Election
1/16/18: ELECTION DAY - South Carolina HD-28, HD-99 Special Elections
1/16/18: ELECTION DAY - Wisconsin SD-10, AD-58, AD-66 Special Elections
1/23/18: ELECTION DAY - Pennsylvania HD-35 Special Election
2/6/18: ELECTION DAY - Missouri HD-39, HD-97, HD-129, HD-144 Special Elections
2/12/18: ELECTION DAY - Minnesota SD-54, HD-23B Special Elections