Battle in the States: NYT Documents Impending GOP Takeover of Statehouses Nationwide

Recess is in full force in Washington, D.C., as national lawmakers vacation around the country, but both political parties are fighting intense political battles on the ground in states nationwide as several statehouses are up for grabs in what’s shaping up to be a landslide pro-GOP election year.

“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,” the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney wrote in a piece filed from Las Vegas, Nevada. “In addition, the party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in statehouses in those years.”

Nagourney noted that states where the GOP could take over state senates included Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Oregon and Maine, and states where Republicans could win state houses include Kentucky, New Hampshire and West Virginia.

Nagourney opened his piece by detailing how Democrats in Nevada—the stronghold of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—are worried they may lose the state Senate.

“It was over 100 degrees here the other evening, but inside a buzzing office tucked away on a stretch of gun stores and pornography shops, Democrats were staring into computer screens and talking urgently into cellphones,” Nagourney wrote. “The stakes were high: The Nevada Senate, which Democrats control by a single seat, could very well shift into Republican hands after November.”

The implications of the GOP taking over statehouses nationwide are huge. In Nevada, a GOP takeover would have an immeasurable impact on Reid two years ahead of the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat's expected re-election bid. But on state-level policy—and on crafting a national message and setting a national vision for the GOP—the impacts are even greater.

“They [Republicans] 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,” Nagourney wrote. “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.”

Nagourney quoted Republican State Leadership Committee president Matt Walter as saying that GOP victories under the tutelage of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin are the blueprint for the party moving forward. “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,” Walter said.


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