State Legislative Election Results Present New Dangers, New Opportunities
FAIR Take | November 2022
Not only did the red wave fail to materialize on the federal level the November elections produced a blue ripple in the states. Democrats picked up four new trifectas in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. A trifecta is where one party controls both houses of the legislature and the executive branch.
However, the news wasn’t all bad for Republicans. North Carolina and Wisconsin both gained near-supermajorities and could potentially override the vetoes of Democrat governors if they can convince a small number of Democrat lawmakers in each state to join them.
New Democrat Trifectas: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota
Before and after the election, Democrats controlled both the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate. However, outgoing Republican governor Larry Hogan, who was term-limited, will be succeeded by incoming Democrat governor Wes Moore. Maryland already passed a sanctuary state bill over Gov. Hogan’s veto and already has both drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens, but more open-borders legislation can undoubtedly be anticipated.
In Massachusetts, the Senate and House of Representatives remained in Democrat hands, and Republican governor Charlie Baker chose not to run for a third term. In the race to replace Governor Baker, Democrat gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey, defeated Republican former state legislator Geoff Diehl. Massachusetts has been a sanctuary state since 2017 when the state’s Supreme Judicial Court in the Lunn v. Commonwealth case said state law does not allow state or law enforcement to honor immigration detainers. However, now that Democrats have a trifecta in the state they may be emboldened to go even further passing far more sweeping sanctuary policies. Additionally, voters in Massachusetts voted to give drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens starting in July 2023. While alien voting is unlikely to pass in the state legislature, bills allowing it in local elections in specific cities and towns, including Boston, may be much more likely to advance.
Redistricting in Michigan played a huge role in the House and Senate to flip from Republican to Democrat control. Voters also re-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) to a second term, giving the State its first Democrat trifecta since 1982. With Democrats in control, it is likely bills to grant drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition to illegal aliens will be considered since they have been priorities of Democrat legislators in several previous years. There is also a possibility that a sanctuary bill could advance.
Minnesota’s divided government became a trifecta, for the first time since 2013, when the Senate, which had been in Republican control flipped to Democrat. The Democrats now have a one-seat majority in the Senate and retained control of the House. Additionally, Democrat Governor Tim Walz was re-elected to his second term. Sanctuary, drivers’ license and in-state tuition bills all seem likely to be introduced and have some chance to advance.
New Republican Near-Supermajorities: North Carolina, Wisconsin
Before the election, Republicans held both chambers of the North Carolina legislature, facing off against Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, but did not have the three-fifths supermajorities needed to override his frequent vetoes. Now Republicans will have thirty seats in the fifty-member Senate, giving them a three-fifths supermajority. In the House, Republicans increased their numbers to 71, only one vote short of three-fifths supermajority. Therefore, flipping a single Democrat member of the House in a vote will allow Republicans to override a veto. Governor Cooper was not on the ballot this year but will be unable to seek re-election in 2024 because of term limits. Over the next two years, Republicans will likely reintroduce anti-sanctuary legislation in North Carolina which would require law enforcement to honor immigration detainers. This legislation had previously passed and had been vetoed by Governor Cooper in both 2019 and 2022. With only one Democrat vote needed, the legislature could possibly override Governor Cooper’s veto.
In Wisconsin, while Democrat Governor Tony Evers was reelected to a second term, Republicans made significant gains in both chambers of the State’s legislature. They increased their numbers in the Senate from 21 to 22, giving them a two-thirds supermajority of the 33-member upper chamber. In the Assembly, Republicans will go from 57 members to 64, putting them two votes shy of a supermajority in the 99-member body. Republicans have advanced anti-sanctuary legislation in previous years in Wisconsin and if they are able to garner support from two members in the Assembly, they will be able to override Governor Evers likely veto.