Democrats gained unified control of the executive and legislative branches of four additional states in this week’s midterm elections (although the defeat in Nevada of the Democratic governor running for re-election means the party also lost one).
The four states where Democrats were successful include Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. In both Maryland and Massachusetts, Democrats secured unified control after prevailing in races to replace an outgoing Republican governor. Both states often lean towards the Democrats, and in at least Maryland, there are significantly more registered Democrats than Republicans. Larry Hogan, the departing governor in that state, was widely liked, even by a majority of Democrats, and he had a reputation as a moderate. Departing Republican Charlie Baker in Massachusetts holds a similar reputation. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, he even helped push action to shore up protections for reproductive rights in the state. (He’s a rare pro-choice Republican.) Trump-aligned candidates pushing the GOP line on so-called culture war issues were seemingly doomed from the start.
In both Michigan and Minnesota, races for governor were also on the ballot, but they were at least initially seen as more competitive. Gretchen Whitmer, the incumbent Democrat in Michigan, went on to win by the better part of ten percentage points, according to results available as of this weekend. In Michigan, Democrats also flipped the state Senate for the first time since the early 1980s, creating what’s known as a Democratic trifecta — in which the party controls both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship — for the first time since that point. In another win for Democrats in Michigan, Hillary Scholten successfully flipped a seat soon-to-be formerly held by Rep. Peter Meijer (R), who dared to vote for Trump’s impeachment after the riot at the Capitol. Republican and conspiracy theorist John Gibbs, who also served in Trump’s presidential administration, won the primary against Meijer. Although redistricting also helped, Scholten will provide what is reportedly the first Democratic representation in the House for Grand Rapids since the 1970s.
Inside Climate News reported that there is already a precedent for unified Democratic control of state government meaning ambitious action on climate policy. “Four years ago, Democrats had an even more successful Election Day in the states, gaining six trifectas,” they reported. “The policies that followed in those states—Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada and New York—helped to cement the idea that Democratic control was a key ingredient for climate and clean energy policy. Each state passed major legislation, either with far-reaching bills or piecemeal approaches to the issues.”
Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons