Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

The Friday Five - September 21, 2018

The Friday Five - September 21, 2018

For the Week of 9/21/2018

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:

1.    Midterms 2018: the battle for state legislatures

Democrats nationwide are fed up with detrimental Republican policies and are taking action at the local level. Despite extreme Republican gerrymandering in many states that puts many legislative and congressional seats safely in Republican hands, the current political climate bodes well for Democrats to flip many state legislative chambers as Democratic voters continue to break turnout records. Nationwide, state Democrats have over 500 more candidates running for state legislatures than Republicans, including twice as many women candidates. State legislatures have been instrumental in leading the resistance against Trump’s policies and protecting communities by passing key legislation. With Democrats only 17 seats away from flipping 8 chambers, the DLCC is working hard to reclaim Democratic majorities in statehouses across the nation.


Democratic candidates for the Iowa House of Representatives have hit the airwaves first with ads highlighting the local issues they will fight for in Des Moines. Nancy Fett, a mom and teacher running in suburban Dubuque, delivered her top priorities in her ad, vowing to fight to preserve coverage for pre-existing conditions, expand access to mental health care, and increase school funding. Kristin Sunde, a DLCC Spotlight Race candidate, is trying to unseat a longtime Republican incumbent in a West Des Moines-based seat that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats are running in 95 out of 100 districts – a 30-year recruitment high – while Republicans have over a dozen incumbents retiring and struggled to recruit candidates, leaving 23 districts unchallenged. Democrats see an opportunity to flip the Iowa House this cycle and make strong gains by picking-up districts in areas where voters are frustrated and disappointed by Republicans at all levels of government.

3.    Record Voter Turnout Expected for Michigan

Voters in Michigan are heading to the polls in force, with suburban voters from Democratic-leaning Oakland County leading the charge. Former state elections director Chris Thomas has predicted that over 4 million ballots will be cast in November, breaking the previous midterm turnout record of 3.8 million votes -- set in the 2006 blue wave election. After years of full Republican control in Lansing and unfair district lines tainting previous elections, the DLCC is working with our state partners and allies to elect candidates like Padma Kuppa and Mallory McMorrow and take back crucial seats in Oakland County and throughout Michigan.

4.    New Poll in Wisconsin Makes Blue Wave Seem More Likely

Wisconsin state Republicans fear that a newly released poll supports warning cries made by Governor Walker all year: that the state GOP is in danger of being wiped out in the blue wave. With beleaguered Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating underwater and incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin holding a commanding 11-point lead over her challenger, Democratic state legislative candidates have a path to flip the state Senate where Democrats only need two seats after flipping two seats in deep red districts earlier this year. After eight years of Republican control over state government, Wisconsin Democrats are ready to elect candidates to Madison who will restore environmental protections and voting rights, address critical criminal justice reform, and tackle many other issues important to Wisconsinites such as health care and rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges. The DLCC is committed to supporting this mission, and we are featuring talented candidates such as Lee Snodgrass and Kriss Marion on our Spotlight Races page as they fight to restore Wisconsin values in the Legislature.

5.   Women Candidates Set Nationwide Records

The 2018 midterm election has set the record for the most women running for elected office in American history. Inspired by the #MeToo movement as well as high disapproval of President Trump, women are ready to make their voices heard not only at the ballot box, but also on the front lines of policymaking in Washington and in state capitols nationwide. “This is a year when voters are looking for new voices and new faces, and for change,” said Deborah Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. This cycle Democrats nominated more than twice as many women (2,297) compared to Republicans (956) running for state legislatures. The Democratic-led Nevada Legislature could become the first state in the nation to have a majority of women serving in the legislature. And over in Colorado, DLCC Spotlight candidates Faith Winter, Jessie Danielson, Kerry Donovan, Brittany Pettersen, and Tammy Story are fighting to flip the Colorado state Senate blue and create a women majority in the chamber. The DLCC is proud to support our strong women candidates and help them lead the charge to take back state legislatures across the country.

- Poll: Democratic women turbocharged to vote in midterms [POLITICO]
VIDEO: NH Rep. Steve Shurtleff stands up for veterans and their families [@TheDLCC]
- Dems break open GOP hold on Midwest governorships [POLITICO]

“In general, Democrats are well-positioned to make gains down-ballot in 2018. That’s going to give them a bigger voice in 2020 redistricting and, of course, in the important work of state policymaking. Democratic legislatures will be more likely to expand Medicaid, raise teacher pay, enact minimum wage increases, and go for things like automatic voter registration that will increase political participation down the road. Trump’s deep unpopularity is likely to give state-level Democrats a big boost."
-- Matthew Yglesias, Vox

In a new piece, Vox's Matthew Yglesias breaks down what’s at stake this fall in the battle for state legislatures