Democrats Win Entire Legislature For First Time In 38 Years

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In a midterm elections cycle that some observers predicted would be significantly more of a setback for the Democratic Party, Democrats have won control of both chambers of the state legislature in Michigan for the first time since the early 1980s.

In Michigan, Republicans flipped the state Senate in 1984 and had held onto control in the chamber ever since. In this year’s elections, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer also defeated Trump-backed Republican challenger Tudor Dixon, who had never before held elected office. Whitmer previously faced harsh criticism — and threats to her safety — over issues including her handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in her state. Michigan was also among the so-called swing states that Joe Biden won in the 2020 presidential race where Trump and many allies of his tried undercutting the results. In the nearby state of Wisconsin, the also defeated Republican pick for governor in this year’s elections, Tim Michels, apparently refused to dismiss the possibility of pursuing the legal invalidation of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election results — something without any legal (or evidentiary) foundation that could have nonetheless created chaos.

Going forward, Democratic control of both chambers of Michigan’s state legislature will impede Republicans from pushing suppressive electoral rules ahead of the 2024 elections and new abortion restrictions, among other areas of concern. Democrats in Michigan have held the state House more recently than they controlled the state Senate, with a majority in the lower chamber after the 2008 elections. Their expected majorities in both chambers were slim, as of early Wednesday. “If their caucus held at 19 seats, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist would serve as a tie-breaking vote, but Democrats believed they would end up with 20 seats,” The Detroit News reported of the Senate. Democrats were also expecting a one-vote majority in the state House, with 56 of the chamber’s 110 seats.

“For more than a generation, Senate Republicans have held the veto power on state government, holding back solutions on real problems in Michigan,” Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Moss said. “Tonight, voters affirmed that it is time for a new majority. Together, we will put an end to the tired business as usual in the Legislature and start a new chapter of bold leadership.” Notably, an independent commission handled redistricting after the last census, potentially helping Democrats in their electoral ambitions via turning back gerrymandering that favored the GOP. Within days of the election, the U.S. Supreme Court formally rejected an appeal from a case challenging the Congressional district lines established by that commission, deeming it moot. 

Meanwhile, other Democrats running in statewide races were also successful in key locales on Tuesday. In Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro defeated Trump-aligned Republican Doug Mastriano in the race for governor, and John Fetterman trounced Trump-backed GOP’er Mehmet Oz, aka Dr. Oz, in the contest for Senate. Oz had poured tens of millions of dollars of his own money into supporting his ultimately failed campaign.

Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons