Democrats outline first stage of planned US$60m campaign to win state legislatures

Democrats outline first stage of planned US$60m campaign to win state legislatures
Democrats outline first stage of planned US$60m campaign to win state legislatures

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Activist Natalia Latif tapes a Vote Uncommitted sign on the speaker's podium during an uncommitted vote election night gathering as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan primary presidential election, in Dearborn, Michigan February 27, 2024. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 — The Democratic Party’s campaign arm dedicated to state legislative races is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars across seven states in an early salvo ahead of November’s election, part of its plan to spend a record-setting US$60 million (RM286 million) to capture statewide power at a time of congressional gridlock.


The targeted states include Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina - all also expected to be decisive swing states in the presidential race that will headline the November 5 election.

Minnesota and New Hampshire are also part of the first significant outlays of 2024 by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which outlined its plans in an announcement seen by Reuters ahead of its release today.

The battle for control of state legislatures has drawn more attention from Democrats and Republicans in recent years. With Congress often mired in partisan stalemates, issues such as reproductive rights and ballot access have largely been left to state lawmakers to address.


Abortion, in particular, is now a state-by-state matter after the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to eliminate a nationwide right to end pregnancies.

“We need power in the states, because it is the states that are implementing our agenda,” DLCC President Heather Williams said in an interview.

After years of Republican dominance, Democrats have won the spending fight more recently, boosted in part by an outside left-wing group, the States Project, that focuses solely on state legislative races. Despite a string of Democratic wins, however, Republicans still control more than half of the country’s legislative chambers.


In January, the Republican state legislative campaign arm announced its 2024 targets, including defending majorities in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin as well as going after narrow Democratic majorities in several states.

The Republican State Leadership Committee has placed a particular emphasis on early and absentee voting as a way of mobilising less engaged voters.

The new Democratic investments, which bring the total spent on 2024 targets to nearly US$750,000 thus far, will go both toward defending slim Democratic majorities as well as targeting vulnerable Republican-held chambers.

In Michigan, the state House of Representatives is split 54-54 with a Democratic speaker, though two Democrats are favored to win vacant seats in special April elections. That would maintain the “trifecta” - the governorship and both legislative chambers - that has allowed Democrats to pass a raft of bills, including expanding abortion rights, since 2022.

The party is also defending a slim majority in Minnesota’s House, where Democrats won a trifecta in 2022. In Pennsylvania, Democrats control the state House 102-100 after winning a special election earlier this month.

Democrats are taking aim at Republican majorities in Wisconsin, with the goal of protecting Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ veto power from Republican super-majorities. In Arizona, where Democrats have seen statewide success in recent cycles, Republicans hold a small two-seat advantage in both the state House and Senate.

Democrats also hope to break Republican super-majorities in North Carolina, which have allowed Republicans to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto pen. The state will elect a new governor this year in what is expected to be a competitive race.

Earlier this week, the DLCC unveiled a new long-term strategy that will devote money to legislative chambers the party believes could be flippable in future cycles, such as Pennsylvania’s Senate and Wisconsin’s legislature. — Reuters

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