With Donald Trump’s presidential campaign collapsing around him and fellow Republicans taking cover to avoid the fallout, the question is no longer “will Trump hinder down-ballot Republicans,” but instead “how many Republicans will Trump take down with him?” The imploding Trump campaign has not only increased Democrats’ chances making gains in the U.S. Senate and House, but it has also greatly expanded the list of state legislative chambers in play this November. With Hillary Clinton working to expand Democratic down-ballot influence in traditionally red states, skyrocketing Democratic voter registration numbers in battleground states, and voter contact efforts by DLCC’s Grassroots Victory Program reaching record-breaking milestones, DLCC Executive Director Jessica discusses Trump’s impact on legislative races this November, noting, “We didn't necessarily see states like Arizona and Michigan as being in play at the start of this cycle...But now we think we have a path to taking the Arizona Senate and the Michigan House.” Post is optimistic that Democrats will be able to flip statehouses lost to Republicans in 2010 and 2014, chambers being “rented” by the GOP.
For Wisconsin state Republicans, Donald Trump isn’t the only top-of-the-ticket Republican they have to worry about this November. While Gov. Scott Walker will not be on the 2016 ballot, his 38 percent disapproval rating, a damaging Guardian report on possible GOP “pay-to-play” politics, and his wildly unpopular proposed cuts to public education will act as additional baggage for legislative Republicans. George Aldrich, executive director of the Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, called out GOP hypocrisy as down-ballot Wisconsin Republican lawmakers attempt to distance themselves from their now-unpopular governor, saying, “It’s outright deceptive for Republican legislators – who have voted with Gov. Walker and Republicans nearly 100 percent of the time – to claim they are anything other than rubber stamps for the Walker agenda.” At the Capitol, these legislators have voted in lock-step with their fellow Republicans, following Governor Walker's lead and helping push his right-wing policies. But now, 20 days out from Election Day, these same legislators are disguising their party-line voting records in campaign mailers that claim they stand "up against party leaders in Madison," highlighting votes against education budget cuts (while failing to mention votes in support of voucher programs at the expense of public schools). Down-ballot Republicans are becoming political contortionists as they attempt to distance themselves from top-of-the-ticket Republicans both on and off the ballot.
As Democrats expect to expand their hold on the Colorado state House, the focus shifts to the battle for control of the state Senate. Republicans barely hold the chamber with a one-seat majority, making this battleground chamber one to watch in November. Many instate actors believe the race for SD-19 between Democratic challenger Rachel Zenzinger and GOP incumbent Sen. Laura Woods will be the race that flips the Senate. Zenzinger, who held the seat briefly in 2014, has been named to . The race has been plagued by shadowy Republican groups using “gray money” to send out mailers slandering Zenzinger with false and offensive attacks that have been previously debunked. Andrew Short, the executive director of the Democratic Senate Campaign fund, is stressing the importance of this election and other legislative races to Coloradans, saying, “(We’re) reminding [voters] how important it is to vote up and down the ballot and the impact state legislative races have on the everyday lives of all Coloradans…We remind them that all politics is local. And the real change that they want to see happen in their lives is going to happen at the local level.” With the highest voter registration rate in the country, Latinos organizing against Trump, and Democrats’ optimism for November statehouse victories increasing as the imploding Trump campaign sinks down-ballot Republicans, the Zenzinger-Woods rematch will be a key race on November 8th.
With Donald Trump’s imploding campaign and self-inflicted HB2 backlash sinking Republicans’ chances down-ballot, North Carolina Democrats are optimistic about the possibility of picking up the three seats needed to break the GOP’s veto-proof supermajority in the state House this November. GOP legislators are struggling to answer for HB2, and Gov. McCrory is at risk of losing reelection over the wildly unpopular Republican bill that has cost the state millions of dollars and damaged its reputation. While Democrats are benefiting from Hillary Clinton’s presence in the state (she also holds a narrow lead in the state), Trump has little to no ground-game in North Carolina. Democratic state Rep. Grier Martin, who is overseeing races for the House Democratic caucus, commented, “We feel that the unpopularity of Donald Trump and Gov. McCrory and beyond has provided us an outstanding chance to break the supermajority and bring balance back to state government.”
A North Dakota Republican state House candidate and son of state Rep. Dan Ruby, Matthew Ruby is under fire after several offensive posts were found on the candidate’s Facebook page. The 2012 and 2013 posts recently surfaced on a conservative website and bragged about drunk driving, insulted a police officer, and featured a racist meme (posted on Ruby’s page by his wife) of Ronald Reagan feeding a baby chimpanzee with the caption: “Rare photo of Ronald Reagan babysitting Barack Obama in early 1962.” Ruby tried to dismiss the racist image, saying, “I don’t know how I’m getting judged for something that was shared by someone else. It was one of those things that has been shared all over.” Sadly, this is not the first time a Republican statehouse candidate has proliferated racist images on social media about our president – it isn’t even an isolated incident this cycle. Oregon Republicans called on their state House candidate to withdraw from the race after he posted a picture if a noose around the president’s neck, and a Republican Kentucky state House candidate refused to apologize for several Facebook posts depicting the First Family and other African-American leaders as monkeys.