DENVER – In response to last night’s upset victory by Republican Matt Bevin in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race and to the failure by Democrats to retake the Virginia State Senate – despite the efforts of Governor Terry McAuliffe and millions spent by outside groups – State Innovation Exchange (SiX) Executive Director Nick Rathod released the following statement:
“This is no coincidence. Nor is it a problem that can be fixed overnight. Conservatives have invested heavily not only in winning state elections, but just as importantly, in supporting and resourcing state legislators once they’re in office. Last night was yet another indication that until progressives get serious about our own investments in state infrastructure-building, we will continue to suffer losses.
“The problem is serious and years in the making. Democrats have seen a deep erosion at the state level, beginning around the time of Watergate, when they had full control of both legislative chambers in 35 states. In the last seven years, Democrats have lost more than 900 state legislative seats. Fast forward to last night, and Democrats now control both chambers in only seven states. Add the gubernatorial loss in Kentucky, and Democrats don’t have a single governorship and only control four statewide elected offices across the entire south.
“This is a structural issue that won’t be fixed by a reliance on demographic shifts or millions of dollars spent in television ads during election cycles. In order to truly compete, progressives need a long game that involves a comprehensive strategy with deep investments like pipeline development of compelling candidates, state policy platforms that allow progressives to promote policy and not just play defense against proposals that will hurt working families, and research and communications support for legislators.
“There are significant consequences to the lack of control that Democrats have in the states. With Washington broken, working Americans rely even more on the states to enact change. In addition, if investments are not made quickly in turning the tide of electoral losses before the 2020 census and redistricting process, Democrats will give away another decade of control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Republicans.”