The Dems Have Ignored State Legislative Races For Too Long– And Has Paid A Price– That’s Changing

2023 Is All About Virginia, Virginia, Virginia. Youngkin must be stopped– picking the right Democrats in June is the first step

There are two important off-cycle legislative elections this year— one in New Jersey and one in Virginia. New Jersey’s 80-seat Assembly currently has 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans and the 40 seat state Senate has 25 Dems and 15 Republicans. The Democrats lost 6 Assembly seats and one Senate seat in 2021. Hopefully they’ll be smarter about it this cycle— but I’m not counting on it. The state Democratic Party is so riven with corruption that it’s hopeless.

Virginia has a better situation and, in fact, Blue America has already endorsed 8 candidates between the 2 Houses. The primary is June 20 for the November elections in the 2 chambers. All 40 Senate seats and all 100 House seats are up for grabs.

In 2019, the Democrats netted 2 Senate seats, gaining control of both Houses and the governors’ mansion for the first time since 1993. It didn’t last long and 2 years ago, the Democrats lost the House of Delegates (and the gubernatorial race). Currently there are 22 Dems in the Senate and 18 Republicans. There are 52 Republican delegates and 48 Democrats. Post-redistricting, the Dems have a good shot at expanding their Senate majority and winning back the House of Delegates.

Yesterday, reporting for CBS News, Aaron Navarro wrote that “Democrats defended every state legislative chamber in their control in 2022, the first midterm elections since 1934 in which the party in control did not lose a chamber. To replicate that record next year, they say they’ll need more money. A memo from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) sent to donors asks for an additional $10 million for 2024, as well as for Virginia’s legislative elections this fall and any special elections that may emerge in New Hampshire, where Democrats are just three seats away from flipping the state House. The memo pitches it to donors as an early investment to ‘protect the path to the presidency’ through building the party’s grassroots presence in presidential battleground states like Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”

Last year the Democrats flipped the Minnesota Senate, the Pennsylvania House and both chambers in Michigan. But… Democrats are badly out-funded by the GOP— which is why I can’t implore our readers enough to please contribute whatever you can– no contributions are too small– to Senate candidates Heidi Drauschak, Victoria Luevanos and Elizabeth Guzman and to Delegate candidates Jessica Anderson, Ronald Lee, Terrence Walker, Branden Riley, and Kannan Srinivasan.

In the few months they’ve held control, Democrats in these three states have taken action on abortion. The Michigan Legislature repealed a 1931 abortion ban triggered after Roe v. Wade was overturned, and Minnesota Democrats codified the “fundamental right” to abortion.

Pennsylvania officially locked up its trifecta after three special state House elections in February. 

In 2024, both parties are expected to battle for the recently flipped chambers in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Republicans also have two-seat majorities in both chambers in Arizona to defend in 2024. 

…Virginia is the most competitive battleground of the four states with legislatures on the ballot this year. New Jersey Democrats have majorities in both chambers, Mississippi is under heavy Republican control, while Republicans are expected to hold Louisiana’s chambers (though the state does have an open governor’s seat). 

In Virginia, Democrats are four seats up in the state Senate but four seats down in the House of Delegates, which Republicans flipped in 2021. This year’s elections will be the first with new electoral maps passed by court-appointed special masters, which are expected to be less Republican-leaning than previous iterations of Virginia’s district lines. 

Democrats flipped a state Senate seat in Virginia in early January when former NFL player and Virginia Beach City Councilman Aaron Rouse won by just under two points. His win grew Democrats’ majority in the state Senate to four seats, and was praised by the White House for making his campaign “clear about the choice” of abortion access. 

“People fundamentally understand that their governors and their state legislature are going to shape abortion policy in the state,” said Virginia-based Democratic strategist Jared Leopold. “And that is a huge problem for Republicans in Virginia, because the path to the majority for either side in Virginia runs through the suburbs.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is expected to ramp up his fundraising and campaigning for Republican down-ballot candidates over the next few months, according to a source familiar with the governor’s plans.

The thermometer on the right is a live link to our contribution page. If you can click on it, you can contribute to any or all of our candidates. Jessica Anderson, a candidate in a swing district southeast of Richmond (including Williamsburg) summed up why the stakes are so high:

“Once winning this November 7th 2023 election, I want to be a part of Virginia codifying reproductive rights in our Virginian Constitution, so we remain a sanctuary state of the south. I want to see public education properly funded and supported, where every educator, support staff and student feels represented and respected. And I want to see every American have access to healthcare, adequate and affordable housing, all while protecting our climate for the future generations to come.”


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