by Matt Walter
Election Day 2014 brought great success and progress for Republicans nationwide, but it is at the state level where Republicans set all-time records. Republicans won more seats than ever before because voters demanded a new, open, innovative future and rejected the top-down, broken system coming from Obama’s Washington. We are proud that Republicans will vastly exceed the previous high-water mark by controlling 69 chambers for the first time in American history and eclipsing a nearly 100-year high of 4,127 legislative seats. We’ve seen a net gain of seats across 60 chambers, and strong majorities of statewide elected officials with 31 lieutenant governors and 28 secretaries of state elected this cycle, many of whom are female and diverse leaders.
We know we have an opportunity, not a mandate, to implement smart policies and raise the whole country through a new vision. With our expanded Republican map, Republicans have gained new opportunities to help middle class families keep more of their own money, grow jobs, improve education and ease burdensome regulations.
In New York, Senate Republicans are poised to begin session with a focus on education reform and charter school expansion. Similarly, the Colorado Senate plans to give teachers the flexibility and resources they need to succeed. In Maine, Republicans will work on eliminating fraud and abuse within their welfare system to ensure the least fortunate citizens receive the help and support they need to get back on their feet. And in West Virginia and Nevada, we see efforts to kick-start tort reform. These, and many other issues, provide opportunities for innovation and creativity within state government.
In addition to serving as the laboratory for democracy when it comes to innovative, open policies, the states also form the strong foundation for growing our Republican Party.
Where are these new majorities to bring sound, conservative policies to their citizens? They are across the nation – in red states and in blue states – and we couldn’t be prouder. In July, we laid out an ambitious goal to capture a supermajority of legislative majorities and named target chambers across the nation – including a number of chambers in traditionally blue states – to map out a path to victory.
We surpassed all pundit expectations by ultimately flipping nine chambers, all of which had been named to the RLCC’s “Sweet 16” target list in July during our national meeting.
New Hampshire House
New Mexico House
West Virginia House
West Virginia Senate
Additionally, Republicans eliminated Democratic Supermajorities in 4 chambers:
Republicans had a net gain of seats in 60 states. In 24 states, Republicans now control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, compared to the seven states controlled by Democrats. These gains in our target seats in target chambers were the result of recruiting the right candidates, many of whom are candidates of diverse ethnicity and women running for first time office.
Among our efforts in all 50 states, the RSLC spent over $6 million to identify, recruit, train and support hundreds of new candidates through our Future Majority Project and “Right Women, Right Now” programs, leading to the election of 164 new female and diverse candidates. We are proud that Republicans reached modern day high-water marks of diverse representatives and Republicans elected more women at the state level at the same time that Democratic women representation at the state level dropped. Republicans also hold more women lieutenant gubernatorial and secretary of state seats than Democrats.
Some of these winning candidates include Beth Martinez-Humenik, a Mexican-American, who won her Colorado Senate race in a district President Obama carried by 9 points, giving Republicans a new majority. In the New Mexico House, Sarah Maestas-Barnes, a Mexican-American lawyer, and Conrad James, an African-American engineer, won in Obama districts, giving Republicans control of the New Mexico House for the first time in six decades. In the Pennsylvania House, Harry Lewis, Jr, an African-American educator, won by nearly eight points and Kate Klunk was victorious, helping Republicans expand their majority in another Obama blue state. And in the West Virginia House, Jill Upson, an African-American woman, won the number one target seat in the fight for control of the West Virginia House by 12 points. They join newly-elected lieutenant governors, including Boyd Rutherford of Maryland, our nation’s only African American lieutenant governor of either party, and Evelyn Sanguinetti, the first Latina lieutenant governor of Illinois and only Latina lieutenant governor in the country, among others.
This cycle we invested significant resources in targeted statewide races, leading to the successful elections of Tim Griffin in Arkansas, Mark Hutchison in Nevada and the re-elections of Casey Cagle in Georgia and Rebecca Kleefisch in Wisconsin, to name a few. We also fought back against the Obama and Clinton machines and their focus on secretary of state races, successfully winning target races in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and beyond.
Our efforts are resulting in a strong bench of future leaders. In the 114th Congress, more than half of new members previously served at the state level, with countless other members, governors and other appointed positions coming from our talented group of lieutenant governors and secretaries of state.
We also started a number of new initiatives this year at the RSLC. We are thrilled with the ongoing interest in and success of “.gop” – the new top-level domain for the Republican Party that went live this summer. The Republican Party, with leadership from the RSLC, is the only political party in the world with its own top-level domain. The RSLC also began the Judicial Fairness Initiative, which successfully supported conservative, fair-minded justices in a number of states. There will be more new initiatives in 2015 to continue to grow the RSLC.
The RSLC remains the premier destination for innovation and collaboration among state-level leaders, operatives and our corporate partners. We believe the bright future of a strong Republican party is born out of the leadership, vision, candidates and policies we are seeing in the states. Our strong wins, coupled with the right candidates, the right message and most importantly, the right policies will keep Republicans in control today and build a new, vibrant and growing Republican Party in the future at the state and federal levels.