Democratic legislatures may stymie GOP ambitions to control US House
Political control of the US House of Representatives may continue to elude Republicans for the next decade. Despite massive campaigns, the GOP on Nov. 4 was able to wrest control of but five state lawmaking chambers from the Democrats. And it is the state legislatures that will set congressional district boundaries for the next 10 years.Skip to next paragraph
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Redistricting, based on this year's US census, must be completed within the next 18 months to take effect in January 1982.
The GOP will have working majorities in both legislative chambers in 13 states. But in seven of these states, Democrats occupy the governor's mansion, thus reducing a potential Republican advantage.
And the six states where Republicans will dominate the lawmaking machinery, there will be no congressional redistricting because each state has only one congressional district.
By contrast, in 1971, 11 states had GOP-controlled legislatures and governorships.
But congressional districts were not the only political turf at stake this year.Starting in November 1982, the newly elected and still largely Democratic-dominated legislatures in most states will redistrict themselves.
An increasing number of states, however, have turned the latter job over to bipartisan panels -- sometimes comprising both elective and nonelective members.At least nine states -- Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, and Ohio -- have such arrangements, although in several there is legislator participation. And in Maryland the governor does the districting subject to lawmaker changes.
Only in Montana is the congressional redistricting handled outside the state legislature.
Republican legislators, while still substantially outnumbered by Democrats in state legislatures across the nation -- 4,501 to 2,915 -- captured a total of 221 seats in 38 of the 43 states where lawmakers were elected.
Only in Maine, Minnesota, and West Virginia will the GOP have fewer legislators than over the past two years.
Democrats will control both lawmaking chambers and the governoships in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Legislative control in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin similarly will remain in Democratic hands. But all these states have GOP governors.
Republicans have won or retained lawmaker majorities and governorships in Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Vermont.
Both legislative branches in eight other states which have Democratic governors will be controled by Republicans. These are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, and Wyoming.
Only six states have divided legislative control. Maine, New York, and Ohio have Republican senates and Democratic lower houses.Delaware and Illinois have Republican houses and Democratic senates. And Alaska has a Democratic-controlled House and a Senate evenly split between the two parties. Nebraska has a Republican governor and a single-chamber "nonpartisan" legislature. The majority of the legislators, however, are from the GOP.
The Pennsylvania Senate, like Alaska's, is tied. But GOP control is assured because the GOP lieutenant governor, as presiding officer, can cast the deciding vote.