* Election 2004
* State Legislatures
* US House
* US Senate
Control of state legislatures is often overlooked at the national level, but has a great impact on lives of ordinary citizens. The number of legislative seats controlled by the respective parties is also a key indicator of the direction of the country at the local level.
The 2002 election was historic for Republicans, as they took over a majority of all state legislative seats for the first time in forever. Republicans also control a majority of legislative bodies.
There are a couple elections on tap for 2003, as Mississippi, Virginia, and New Jersey will hold state elections. Most of the fireworks will come in 2004 though, when most everyone else goes to the polls. Here's a look at the current status each state house or assembly and senate, and whether we can expect a change in control after the next election.
The Southern Seven
Prognosis: Republicans are on the cusp here, but the recent regime of GOP Gov Sundquist, an income tax advocate, didn't help matters. Both bodies could switch control in 2004, especially with Democrats holding the governorship too.
Prognosis: Expect to see GOP gains here with house, senate, and governorship in Democrat hands, after Brad Henry was elected with only 43% of the vote.
Prognosis: These folks hold elections in 2003, and serve 4-year terms. Three state reps and a senator have switched to Republican in the past month (Jan. 2003), saying the Democrat Party has no room for conservatives; more switchers may be in the offing. Folks expect to see 40 new faces in the legislature because of redistricting; that should bode well for Republicans, who have a real chance at winning the senate and should make strong gains in the house. Possible additional switchers: Senators Travis Little, Tommy Dickerson, various reps. March 1st is the qualifying deadline for primaries, so we'll find out by then.
Prognosis: Republicans are making gains here, challenging traditional one-party rule; the state voted for Bush in 2000.
Prognosis: Republicans should gain, slowly. Black Democratic Rep. Johnny Ford switched to the GOP recently; he's the only black Republican in the legislature, but it's a start.
Prognosis: Still heavily Democrat locally.
Prognosis: Slow progress.
Prognosis: This baby could go either way; it's a tossup for president but Democrats hold sway in their districts and won't give up easy, especially with Bill Richarson running things.
Prognosis: If Republicans had their acts together they'd be in control here, but corruption and establishment RINOs have taken their toll, as the GOP lost senate control in 2002. Question is, will it get worse before it gets better?
Prognosis: This is a tossup state, with the senate traditionally Republican. A contested senate race in 2002 produced the switch in control; Republicans are motivated to take back that chamber, at least, in 2004, and having a Democrat governer should aid their task.
Prognosis: Republicans are a little clueless here, but are making a dramatic stand against tax increases in a big showdown with legislative Democrats and Governor Gray Davis.
Prognosis: Not a lot of hope in this suburb of NYC, unless the Chin Twins take over.
Prognosis: When pigs fly . . . but there are some signs of unexpected strength.
Prognosis: When pigs fly . . . but new GOP Gov. Bob Ehrlich -- and black Lt Gov Michale Steele -- could change things.
Prognosis: When pigs fly . . . but new conservative GOP Gov. Don Carcieri could be a leader. No place to go but up.
Prognosis: When pigs fly . . . but pigs don't fly.
Flight of Five
Prognosis: The post-election switch of conservative GOP Rep Michael Decker to the Democrats, motivated by greed for the higher salary of the speaker pro-tem position, has thrown the chamber into an even split; it remains to be seen who will win election as speaker. There is no recall provision in North Carolina, so for the next two years Forsyth County and the state are saddled with it's very own slimeball Jim Jeffords. Decker will be one of many ripe targets as Republicans have a good chance of taking control outright.
Prognosis: This is a Republican state and prime territory for a house pickup. Anything less than total control is a defeat for Republicans. A strong gubernatorial candidate like Mitch Daniels would certainly help.
Prognosis: The watershed election of 2002, with massive voter turnout in the wake of Paul Wellstone's death, produced strong victories for Republicans across the state. Minnesota has been trending GOP, however, and 2002 just speeded up the process. Status quo in the house and one pickup in the senate would be counted a victory.
Prognosis: While the state Democrat Party has been having difficulty lately, they still hold the House. 2004 could be a major turning point: if GOP Rep. Jim Gibbons can oust Sen. Harry Reid, it is a sign that Democrats are dead in the state, and Republicans will take back the house. Reid is known for strong get-out-the-vote operation, however.
Prognosis: A key tossup state on many levels, Presidential, Governor, Senate, with Osama Mama Patty Murray up in 2004, and a closely-divided state legislature. The state GOP is less than perfectly run, but a strong challenger to Murray could make the difference and pull off a GOP sweep. Status quo in state elections would have to be counted as a draw, though.
Three Blind Mice
Prognosis: Republicans have made a comeback in the aftermath of the Democrats' push for gay marriage. Will the momentum continue through 2004? Currently Republicans depend on a coalition to hold control of the House.
Prognosis: 2002 governor nominee Kevin Mannix has taken the reins of the state GOP, which is a good thing; Republicans only need one seat in the senate to regain control, and Karl Rove has promised Oregon will receive close attention -- and resources -- from the presidential campaign.
Prognosis: The unexpected defection of a Democrat to the Green Party is causing state Democrats to rethink their appeal of a redistricting map that would eliminate said Greenie's district. Status quo = GOP victory.
Half & Half
Prognosis: Three senate Democrats switched to the GOP after the election, giving the Republicans a majority after strong gains on election day in a watershed year. Expect to see maybe five more house seats go Republican in 2004.
Prognosis: A monument to gerrymandering; Republicans and Democrats have come together repeatedly to protect each others' incumbents, resulting in a strong Republican majority in the senate and massive Democrat majority in the house. But is there really any difference between a New York Republican and Democrat?
Prognosis: The Republification of Kentucky is in full swing and will result in more gains at the state and local level in 2004, though the gains won't be enough to switch over the House.
Prognosis: DuPont Republicanism is still strong in Delaware despite the tide of northeastern liberalism. There are a couple vulnerable senate districts in the state that could go either way, but Republicans would need a few breaks to gain control. Gubernatorial elections in 2004, with incumbent Democrat Ruth Ann Minner facing justice William Swain "Bill" Lee, could drive the local elections.
Prognosis: And they can't elect a Republican statewide because . . . ?
Prognosis: The current standoff with Governor Rendell, who is threatening to veto his own proposed budget, will have big consequences for 2004. What, I don't know.
Prognosis: Another tossup state leaning GOP.
Prognosis: Democrats will have a big presence in Iowa because of the presidential caucuses, but what effect that will have on local elections is unclear.
Prognosis: The dynamic that develops, pitting Governor Napolitano against the Republican legislature, will go a long way toward determining whether Democrats can compete in the state.
Prognosis: The legislature has driven some controversy with strong measures supporting the right to keep and bear arms. The bet here is that this will redound to their credit.
Prognosis: Democrats show surprising strength in Montana; Governor Martz is unpopular but is holding the line on taxes and spending. These legislators love their pork . . .
Prognosis: State legislative election in 2003, only for house members; state senators serve 4-year terms and aren't up until 2005. In the house, Republicans have: 32 safe, 14 semi-safe, 9 lean, and 8 tossup seats; comparable numbers for Democrats are 22-5-2-6. (One Democrat seat has switched to GOP in a special election since.)
Prognosis: Current issue is what to do about declining oil revenues.
Prognosis: Democrats are lost in the Bushes in Florida these days.
Prognosis: Legislative conservatives have to deal with a RINO contingent supporting higher spending.
Prognosis: This is GOP long-term now that the yellow dogs are lying down.
Prognosis: Don't mess with Texas.
Prognosis: Home of Crapo.
Prognosis: Working on legislation to outlaw Democrats.
Prognosis: There are actually three parties in Kansas, and two are Republican.
Prognosis: Home of Cheney.
Prognosis: Home of Bigamists (just kidding!).
Prognosis: Home of Thune.
Prognosis: Home of hockey.