Republicans won control of at least 19 state legislative chambers Tuesday — gains with implications that could extend for the next decade as the GOP now holds an outsized role in the redistricting process in several key states.
With new power in the redrawing of Congressional district maps, Republican State Leadership Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie projected the big wins would translate to a gain of 15 to 25 House seats for the party.
That includes seats Republicans will either pick up or save from being carved out after the redistricting process in each state concludes next year, another huge opportunity for a party that just gained a net 60 House seats Tuesday.
“That has very dramatic implications for the next 10 years,” Gillespie said on a Wednesday press conference call. “Of the 18 states that are going to gain or lose seats in reapportionment, Republicans now have majorities in 10 of those states.”
Republicans made state legislative history in a number of states, and Gillespie paid particular attention to the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all of which will have GOP majorities in both chambers and a Republican governor.
The party also now holds a majority of the governorships after picking up 10 states where Democrats are in charge, and several more remain too close to call. Governors can be instrumental in Congressional remapping, as they hold veto power or appoint a commission in all but eight states.
In Ohio, Republicans picked up both the state House and the governorship from Democrats, and they already had control of the state Senate.
With five Republican Congressional district pickups and the state expected to lose two seats to reapportionment, the state-level gains will be felt as the new map is drawn.
“It’s much better to have Dennis Kucinich’s [D] seat in danger of being carved out than John Boehner’s [R], the new Speaker of the House,” Gillespie said.
Another state to watch is North Carolina, where Republicans picked up both the House and the Senate. Republicans have not held the state Senate since 1870, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
An added twist there is that unlike powers granted to governors in many other states, Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) does not have veto power in redistricting.
Along with North Carolina, Republicans stepped out of the minority in both legislative chambers in Alabama, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine and New Hampshire. None of those states uses an independent commission to draw new Congressional district lines, as 13 other states do.
As the party did in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Republicans also picked up five House seats in New York, which could lose two seats in reapportionment. While Democrats won the governorship and held the state House, Republicans as of Wednesday night appeared poised to take the state Senate.
NCSL redistricting expert Tim Storey said Monday that “Republicans really need to win the state Senate to have any say” in New York’s redistricting process.
Democrats are concerned about the ramifications of the realignment and what it could mean for their newly depleted House Caucus.
Lone Star Project founder Matt Angle said Republicans will “gerrymander districts” if they can and could put federally mandated Voting Rights Act districts at risk. The Lone Star Project is a Democratic group focused on influencing the redistricting process in Texas, the state projected to gain the most seats through reapportionment.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.