Governor and midterm legislative results that could affect your life: NPR

Supporters react during an election night for Democratic Governor Tony Evers at the Orpheum Theater November 8 in Madison, Wisc. Evers defeated Republican challenger Tim Michels on Tuesday.

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Supporters react during an election night for Democratic Governor Tony Evers at the Orpheum Theater November 8 in Madison, Wisc. Evers defeated Republican challenger Tim Michels on Tuesday.

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Who runs your state government shapes everyday life in the United States. These governors and legislatures develop policies on guns, abortion, education, and the environment.

Combined with gridlock at the federal level, “where you live now increasingly determines the policies you live under,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego.

Midway through 2022, Democratic candidates have exceeded expectations in state leadership races, winning competitive contests for governor and toppling state legislatures. But the Republicans sailed to victory in their strongholds.

Here’s how the midterm elections rocked state-level leadership.

Democrats have won at least 2 more governorships

In close races, Democratic governors were usually the defenders. Biden’s low approval ratings and inflation concerns have fueled fears of a “red wave.”

But many Democrats in tighter contests won reelection: Gov. Janet Mills in Maine, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico.

In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers also won a second term. He will continue to work with a Republican-led state legislature. Governor Laura Kelly retained the office of governor of Kansas, a state that former President Donald Trump won twice.

The party has also tightened its control in two states where registered Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans: Maryland and Massachusetts. In both cases, the Democratic nominee won an open gubernatorial post that a Republican had vacated. Democrats now completely control state government in both states. (When a single party controls the state house, state senate, and governor’s office, it’s called a “trifecta”.) While the state legislatures of both states were already able to overriding the incumbent Republicans’ vetoes, it will now be even easier to push through the Democratic agenda. items with a trifecta.

There will also be a Democratic trifecta in Oregon, where Democrat Tina Kotek emerged victorious Thursday night from a close race with Republican Christine Drazan.

“We’ve had the best midterms for governors since 1986,” President Biden told reporters at a news conference this week.

Prior to the election, Republicans held 28 state governorships and Democrats held 22. That number will change, though final results are pending in a few states.

Either way, the majority of Americans “will be living in states where Democrats are governors” in 2023, due to their victories in states with large populations, said Ben Williams of the National Conference of State Legislatures. (NCSL), during a press call. .

Democrats have also taken control in some swing state legislatures

The Republican Party has controlled the majority of state legislatures across the country since 2010.

This cycle, two Democratic-aligned outside spending groups have invested $80 million to begin changing that, in addition to the roughly $50 million spent by the party itself. Part of the mission was to ensure that state legislatures did not work to overturn the results of the upcoming presidential election, as many GOP lawmakers did in 2020.

The Democrats have succeeded beyond their expectations.

The party overthrew the Michigan State House and State Senate, a chamber it has not controlled in four decades. This will give Democrats a clear path to enact their agenda items. In her victory speech, Democratic Governor Whitmer said that would include growing the economy, improving public education and continuing to “fight like hell” to protect basic human rights.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats also claim to have flipped the state House of Representatives, holding a press conference to announce their victory. In this chamber, State Rep. Joanna McClinton could be the first black woman to become Speaker of the Pennsylvania House.

The Associated Press has yet to call all of those races, and the state’s Republican party has not conceded. “We believe Democrats claiming a majority right now is premature and we continue to closely monitor a number of races where the votes are still being counted,” Pennsylvania House GOP spokesman Jason Gottesman told NPR.

Part of the success of Democrats in Michigan and Pennsylvania can likely be attributed to new electoral district maps drawn after the 2020 census.

Democrats also won a supermajority in both houses of the Vermont state legislature, meaning the party can now override the GOP governor.

The night he won re-election, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis takes the stage during an election watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida on Nov. 8.

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The night he won re-election, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis takes the stage during an election watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida on Nov. 8.

Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images

Republican incumbent governors won

Republican governors have brushed aside challengers, even in races thought to be close. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacy Abrams for the second time, and by a wider margin. In Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis narrowly beat his 2018 opponent, he beat his 2022 challenger Charlie Crist, winning by a double-digit margin. Governor Greg Abbott also defeated Beto O’Rourke in Texas, winning a third term.

In a much tighter race, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt overcame a challenge from state education official Joy Hofmeister.

The GOP could still upset Nevada, a state that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020. Gov. Steve Sisolak is following Las Vegas-area Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican, in his bid for re-election. The Associated Press has yet to call the race.

But in Arizona, where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is serving a limited term, the race is too close to call. Former local Fox TV anchor Kari Lake and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs are still locked in a close race on Friday. Lake, who has made false claims about the integrity of the 2020 election, initially declined to say whether she would accept the outcome of her run if she loses.

Republicans still control most state legislatures

The Republicans maintained or strengthened their trifecta by winning seats in Florida, the Iowa Senate and the South Carolina House. The party now holds non-veto majorities in Florida and Ohio. In these states, many conservative policy priorities have already been passed or proposed, such as carrying guns without a license and restrictions on teaching about gender or sexuality in schools.

The growth of these majorities, even under the leadership of the Republican governor, could lead to infighting.

“Just because you’re wearing the same jersey doesn’t mean you always play for the same goals,” Williams of the NCSL said.

But the GOP was unable to win overwhelming majorities in some states with divided governments, meaning Democratic governors will still be able to exercise their veto power. Republicans won a supermajority in the Wisconsin Senate, but not in the Wisconsin House.

It matters because the state’s Democratic Governor, Tony Evers, survived a close contest to win a second term. In his prime, he vetoed more than 140 bills and will continue to be able to veto legislation passed by Republicans.

The same thing happened in North Carolina. Republicans won a supermajority in the state Senate. But Democrats said they had retained enough seats in the State House to prevent the GOP from rolling Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Divided governments like these are becoming rarer. “Beginning in 2010 and in almost every election since then, red states have gotten redder and blue states have gotten bluer,” said Kousser, the political scientist.


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