Legislatures: Republicans Aim for Gains in Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina

In 2008, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio had a great run as some of the most politically interesting states in the country. They wisely scheduled their ...
by | May 3, 2010

In 2008, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio had a great run as some of the most politically interesting states in the country. They wisely scheduled their presidential primaries after Super Tuesday and, as a result, each played an out-sized role in the epic campaign for the Democratic nomination. They each were swing states for the general election and, as it turned out, were three of the seven states that voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004, but then flipped to President Obama (Virginia, Florida, Nevada and Colorado were the others).

As a result, no tears will be shed for these three states just because their primaries tomorrow are rather dull (especially compared to some of the states that are coming later). Besides, these three will be battlegrounds for state legislative control in November -- and what could be more exciting than that?

In Indiana, Democrats have a fragile 52-48 majority in the state House of Representatives. Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels would like to change that -- and give Republicans complete control of Indiana state government for his last two years in office. From the Indianapolis Star:

Daniels' political action committee, Aiming Higher, held a fundraising event Tuesday night in Carmel with about 700 people paying $250 to $10,000 to attend.

Money raised will be added to the more than $728,000 that Aiming Higher had in its war chest as of April 9, the end of the last campaign finance reporting period.

All the money, said Brian McGrath, executive director of Daniels' PAC, will be used to help Republican candidates for the House.

The Indiana House has been tightly contested for years. Given that Democrats couldn't build a bigger majority in 2008 even with Obama's strength at the top of the ticket, Indiana's lower chamber, at least on the surface, looks like one of the most likely chambers to flip in the country.

In Ohio, Democrats also have a fragile House advantage, but they have the money. From the Associated Press:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The May 4 primaries will set up Democrats as they try to retain a narrow majority in the Ohio House come November.

The party gained seven House seats during a Democratic resurgence helped by President Barack Obama's election in 2008, taking control of the chamber for the first time since 1995. Holding onto their 53-46 majority will be challenging in a tough economy and with angry voters poised to take out their frustrations on incumbents.

House Democrats have a 2-1 fundraising edge, though, with $4 million on hand compared with $1.7 million for House Republicans, according to campaign finance records filed in January.

Republicans were in charge of redistricting in Ohio a decade ago and both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate are among the most skillfully gerrymandered legislative bodies in the country. The question is whether the lines in the House can put Republicans back in charge one last time.

Finally, in North Carolina Senate Republicans are pursuing a 50-seat strategy. From the News Observer:

Republican candidates will run in all 50 state Senate districts in North Carolina. "I think that is the first time that has ever happened," said Senate Republican leader Phil Berger of Eden. "People sense an opportunity."

This is notable in a state where Democrats have controlled the legislature for all but four years since 1898, and where Republicans have often struggled to field candidates.


In the 120-member state House, Republicans have candidates for 110 seats. House GOP leader Paul Stam of Apex said there are candidates for every winnable race.

Democrats majorities in North Carolina are somewhat more substantial: 30-20 in the Senate and 68-52 in the House. Still, if Republicans do end up having a very good year, winning control doesn't appear out of the question.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer

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