Statehouse wins put GOP in redistricting driver’s seat

November 4, 2010

By Joseph Weber-The Washington Times

The Republican midterm wave swept through state capitals across the nation Tuesday, with historic gains in state legislative races that will give the GOP a major advantage in influencing congressional races over the next 10 years through redistricting.

Republicans have won control of at least 19 additional state chambers now controlled by Democrats. That number is expected to increase – and to surpass the party’s 1994 total of 20 pickups – when final votes are tallied in six undecided races. The swing could eclipse the Democratic gains in the post-Watergate midterm elections of 1974, when 21 state chambers changed hands.

Republicans won control of 55 state legislative bodies and Democrats garnered control of 40, with one split. Although states use different processes to oversee redistricting, one analysis gives the GOP unchallenged control to determine the boundaries of 190 of the country’s 435 congressional districts.

“Election Day proved to be an even bigger ‘wave’ election than anyone anticipated,” said Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee. “Voters went to the polls and swept Democrats from office.”

Republican officials said the party also has gained a rich class of recruits who could one day run for statewide or national office.

Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye said the state legislative elections – in which Republicans are expected to pick up a net 500 seats nationwide – provide Republicans with a “really strong farm team that is now making positive changes for their community and that will run for high office in the future.”

Among the more startling results: Republicans captured the Minnesota state Senate for the first time ever, won control of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time since 1870, and seized control of both houses of the Alabama Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Maine and Wisconsin, Republicans scored a trifecta, winning the governorships and both houses of the state legislatures in Augusta and Madison.

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