by Karl Kurtz
Three states will hold their odd-year legislative elections tomorrow--Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia. A fourth, Louisiana, ever marching to a different electoral drummer, will hold its second round elections on Nov. 19. In New Jersey and Virginia (and Louisiana) it's the first election after new districts have been drawn. Not so in Mississippi: the Legislature was unable to reach agreement on a new redistricting plan and received permission from the courts to conduct the election with the old districts.
We will be watching and reporting on possible changes in party control:
- The Virginia Senate, currently controlled by Democrats by a 22-18 margin is hotly contested. If Republicans can pick up at least two seats (the tie-breaking vote would go to Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling), they would gain unified control of the commonwealth's state government. Republicans are putting on a full court press, while Democrats are hoping that relatively favorable redistricting will help them hold off the Republican tide.
- Democrats have an eight a fourteen seat margin in the Mississippi House. Republicans hope to narrow that margin, and possibly even to take control if they can gain a net of eight seats. [Corrected, 11/8, 11 a.m.] If both the Virginia Senate and the Mississippi House were to switch party control, Republicans would control the legislatures and the governorships in every southern state except Arkansas.The Mississippi Senate, on the other hand, has a narrow 27-25 Republican margin and could conceivably switch to the Democrats. [Addition, 11/8, 12 p.m.]
- The New Jersey Senate has a four vote margin in favor of the Democrats, but 37 of 40 incumbents are running for reelection. It would be a stretch, but the numbers are close enough that a big Republcan win could switch that chamber's party control.
- And then there is Iowa's special election to fill a vacant Senate seat. With Democrats holding a two vote margin in the Senate, a Republican victory in the special election could tie the chamber and lead to a power sharing agreement like the one that was necessary after the 2004 election, the last time the Senate was knotted 25-25.
NCSL's election team will report on these state legislative races in The Thicket beginning Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday. We will report the initiative and recall election results on our companion blog, Prop*50.