Governors Are Crucial For Fair Elections: Plan for 2020 Redistricting

The political crisis we find ourselves in today – a corrupt, autocratic President, a compliant Congress, and a reactionary Supreme Court - didn’t come about overnight. When Republicans swept the midterm elections in 2010 they seized control of governorships and state legislatures. This in turn gave them control of redistricting following the 2010 census and began the process of voter suppression and gerrymandering. By giving Republicans unchallenged control of the states’ election machinery, the 2010 midterm election set the stage for Trump’s election and the uphill fight to regain the Congress we are facing today. The 2018 state elections are our best chance to reverse this stranglehold on the ballot box by electing Governors and Legislatures committed to fair elections and equal access to voting.

Historically, Democrats and Progressives have poor track records in midterm elections. Yet, state and local elections are the foundation of national political power. The 2018 election is a chance to check this out of control Congress and President. Perhaps more importantly, it is our chance to build toward a decade of progressive governance.

 The precise situation varies greatly across the 50 states but the simplest way to think of what is at stake at the state level is this:

  1. In most states the Legislature and the Governor determine the boundaries for congressional and legislative districts. Redistricting begins after the census every 10 years. A Democratic House or Senate can insist on fair districts; a Democratic governor usually has power to veto extremely gerrymandered redistricting schemes. This determines whether Democrats have a reasonable chance to win the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2018, the gerrymandered districts heavily favor Republicans; Democrats will have to win the national election by 7% in order to take a narrow majority in the House.

  2. State government is important for people! State and local government has a greater practical effect on everyday life than Congress and the federal government. Democratic governors can put the brakes on damaging legislation that comes out of Republican controlled state legislatures.

  3. A state legislature and the governor determine whether state residents are covered by the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. This issue alone is crucial for the health and well being of the citizens of the 17 states where Republicans have blocked this provision of the ACA. 

The overwhelming Republican control of state governorships is one of our great opportunities to make a change to Democratic governors.  Thirty six states will be electing governors and almost every state will elect new legislatures on November 6. Republicans are currently in control of 26 governorships, while Democrats will defend 9; one independent is running again in Alaska. Analysts predict that up to a dozen of these races are either toss ups or leaning Democratic. The states that seem to be most in play are: New Mexico, Illinois, Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Iowa.  You can find more details on these races herehere, and here.  The bottom line is that these races need money, volunteers and on the ground Get Out The Vote work.  

We have largely focused our newsletters on national issues because our audience is national, but progressives cannot have a meaningful role in government by being only a national party. We must compete and win at the state and local level. The most important message you can take with you into the ballot box is to “Vote the entire ballot!”

Call To Action

Support Democrats in local, state and congressional races. Send money, volunteer your time, call friends and family in contested states, help Get Out the Vote!  The best resource for giving and details is at Flippable.

Vote the entire ballot! When you get the ballot go all the way through it. If you don’t know a candidate or an issue take the time to look them up. Call a knowledgeable friend or interest group that you identify with for advice.