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How Eric Holder Plans to Break Republicans' Statehouse Control

Former Attorney General Eric Holder is ramping up his efforts to reshape Republican-drawn congressional district maps.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder is ramping up his efforts to reshape Republican-drawn congressional district maps.

Holder’s plan focuses on “trifectas” — states where Republicans control both the governor’s mansion and both legislative chambers, giving them total control over the redistricting process. Holder laid out his strategy Wednesday to reporters at a Washington breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Holder and his allies have their work cut out for them. Democrats withered in statehouses across the country during former President Obama’s administration, with Republicans gaining around 1,000 state legislative seats between 2009 and 2016.  

Yet there’s optimism on the left that opposition to President Trump can help the party make gains in the midterms, even in red-leaning areas. Democrats have flipped 35 state legislative seats this cycle, including several in deep-red areas. 

Holder’s effort is a sign that the party will need serious resources just to get a seat at the table when new district lines are drawn in 2021. 

“The officials elected in 2018 will be the people sitting at the table when it comes to 2021,” Holder said. 

“This makes the elections in 2018 very vital. These are in some ways the first, critical steps to putting in place people who will take power back and give it to people.”

Holder’s vehicle for his vision is the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), which he’s been setting up since Trump took office. The group has raised more than $16 million, and aims to collect $30 million before the 2018 midterms.

Republicans currently hold 26 state “trifectas.” Holder and the NDRC want to give Democrats at least partial control of those statehouses, while building up Democratic redistricting power through related reforms, advocacy and litigation.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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