Democrats say they are serious about state elections. But are they too late?

Democrats say they are serious about state elections.  But are they too late?

“It feels a lot like climbing uphill, pushing a rock as your arms melt,” says Amanda Litman of the liberal group Run for Something, which recruits young people to run for state and local office.

Gaby Goldstein, co-founder of Sister District, a grassroots organization that supports progressive candidates in state legislature races, noted that conservatives have mobilized around state politics for decades. “I always say the Democrats are late to the party,” she said.

The Democratic Party’s belated interest in lower-level races stemmed from the painful experience in 2010, when Republicans mounted an anti-Obama response to oust hundreds of Democratic incumbents across the country. Spending just $30 million, the Republicans knocked over 680 state seats and 20 chambers, a stunning victory that allowed them to redraw election maps and tighten their grip on those states — and their congressional delegations — for a decade.

“Democrats were frankly unprepared during that cycle,” said Kelly Ward Burton, who headed the House Democrats campaign committee at the time. Now the chairman of the reclassification committee of Mr. Holder, Ms. Burton has worked closely with several Democratic campaign groups in hopes of a different outcome than the current round of reclassification.

Part hard-line politics and part good governance activism, the group’s strategy was to split up GOP “trifectas” whenever possible — reducing the number of states where Republicans have full control over the realignment process because they hold the governorship and the majority in both legislatures. having power. Rooms. They also ask candidates for state and federal offices to pledge support for “fair reclassification that ends map manipulation and creates truly representative districts,” an ambition that is sometimes at odds with more partisan goals.

Halfway through the current reclassification struggle, the results of those democratic efforts are mixed.

The long-disturbed Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee became a force under new leadership in 2016, setting up the party to capture six chambers in the 2018 midterm elections. Since 2017, Democrats have turned over ten governorship offices, including on the battlefields of Michigan, Nevada. , Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and seven seats on the state Supreme Court. Five states have passed impartial reclassification reforms, leaving the drawing of maps in the hands of independent commissions.

But the blue wave Democrats were counting on in 2020 never washed ashore. Although Democratic groups have spent record sums to reclaim GOP-run state houses, their party ended worse last year, losing both chambers in New Hampshire. As a result, the Republicans not only controlled prices like the legislatures of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but also retained the power to draw maps for 187 congressional districts, while the Democrats determine the fate of only 75.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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