This month’s elections not only resulted in a Republican-controlled Congress beginning on November 22, but also that Republicans gained control of the most state legislatures and now hold the majority of statehouse seats nationwide for the first time since 1954 the Christian Science Monitor reported today. Budget cuts will likely be the predominant issue after a slower than expected economy this summer, and the Monitor noted that “in the past, GOP gains have meant more conservative approaches on social as well as fiscal issues, from abortion to the environment and tough mandatory sentences for violent crimes.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now control 21 legislatures and Democrats control 16 state legislatures. Eleven states have split party control with each party controlling one chamber, Nebraska is nonpartisan, and Washington State is still undecided. Overall, Republicans have the majority of state legislature seats, by a 52-48 margin. These results may shift slightly pending recounts in various close races but not enough to affect the Republican Party’s leadership in the most state legislatures. With redistricting and term limits having an effect, the 2002 elections resulted in the largest turnover of state legislative seats ever.
Democrats in the US Senate will maintain their control for a little while longer, Fox News reported today. Interim Minnesota Senator Dean Barkley, the Independence Party founder who was appointed to finish the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s term, announced yesterday that he would not organize with either party for the US Senate’s lame-duck session. This allows Democrats to maintain control of the US Senate until Nov. 22, when Senator-elect Jim Talent (R-MO) is sworn in after his victory over Sen. Jean Carnahan in last Tuesday’s special election. Sen. Barkley’s top priority is homeland security, and he could be a swing vote on the workers’ rights issue that has been holding up the legislation in the Senate.