Unless you were on Mars last week, you heard about the landslide Republican capture of the U.S. House as well as the major GOP gains in Senate seats and governorships. But there were other contests for lower offices that were also very significant: Here are some of the results from races you may not have heard about:
Republicans took control of state legislatures in ten states—the most states to switch party control of their legislatures since 1865. In addition, Republicans made major gains in winning key statewide offices. Alan Wilson, son of Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-S.C), was elected attorney general of South Carolina in a landslide and Florida Prosecutor Pam Biondi, who had the backing of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, became attorney general of Florida. So the Republican “bench” for the future was replenished…
Alabama: 2010 As Big As 1964
“It has to do with Obama’s being a very liberal President who borders on being a Socialist,” is how Alabama State GOP Chairman Mike Hubbard explained to the Associated Press his prediction of a Republican sweep of his state days before it happened.
Hubbard was right. In much the same way as in 1964, when Barry Goldwater swept Alabama’s electoral votes and Republicans won five of the state’s eight U.S. House districts, Yellowhammer State GOPers last week had a romp up and down the ballot. Not only did and GOP State Rep. Robert Bentley, a physician, win the governorship in a landslide, but the Republican Party took control of the state house and senate for the first time since 1874.
In addition, GOPers won the offices of lieutenant governor and state attorney general and Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby ousted Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright. Coupled with the election of stalwart conservative Mo Brooks to Congress from the 5th District (months after he defeated Democratic convert and Rep. Parker Griffith in the GOP primary), the results last night mean that all but one of Alabama’s seven U.S. representatives are Republicans.
California: A Cooley Night
With Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. winning the big races for governor and senator, respectively, in California last week, Republicans nonetheless did have something to cheer about: They will have at least one statewide officeholder in Sacramento, as Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley waselected attorney general.
Best known for defeating his old boss Gil Garcetti as L.A.’s top prosecutor in 2000 (following Garcetti’s much-criticized handling of the O.J. Simpson trial), moderate GOPer Cooley won last night by defeating archliberal Democrat and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.
“She’s about as liberal as you can get—even for San Francisco,” Cooley told me during the Republican State Convention in San Diego last August. Throughout the campaign, he hit hard at Harris for being a player in San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies and how illegal immigrants with criminal records who had been given sanctuary in her city went on to commit more crimes.
Connecticut: Why Healy Is Smiling
Although the all-out effort behind former World Wrestling Entertainment head and Republican Senate hopeful Linda McMahon fell short, and businessman and former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley was locked in a disputed outcome in the race for governor, State Party Chairman Chris Healy and other Nutmeg State GOPers had something to smile about last week. After years of being reduced to barely one-third of the seats, GOPers roared back to pick up 15 seats in the state House of Representatives and two in the Senate, meaning that the moderate-to-conservative Foley’s vetoes as governor will be sustained. One notable winner was retired U.S. Navy officer Sean Sullivan, who lost an ’08 race against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, and came back last night to win a Senate seat in Eastern Connecticut.
Illinois: Up in the Air
With all the outrage boiling over during the trial of disgraced former Democratic Gov. (2002-09) Rod Blagojevich, the race for his old job was up in the air at presstime. Acting Gov. Pat Quinn was locked in a tight contest with Republican Bill Brady, whom onetime state senate colleague Ed Petka dubbed “a younger, Catholic Ronald Reagan.”
Should Brady triumph, Prairie State conservatives get a “two-fer” with his lieutenant governor running mate. 28-year-old Jason Plummer, businessman and U.S. Naval Reservist, has long worked for conservative causes and candidates and was once a Heritage Foundation intern.
Republicans also picked up six new seats in the state House of Representatives and two in the state Senate.
Michigan: Biggest Since Mitt’s Dad
Not since the late Gov. (1962-69) George Romney, father of Mitt Romney, won the first four-year term of any Michigan governor back in 1966 have Water Wonderland GOPers experienced a win of the magnitude of last week.
With Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm termed out, millionaire businessman and first-time candidate Rick Snyder came out of nowhere to win the Republican nomination over four experienced office-holdeers. Last week, “Snyder the Outsider” won the governorship by a margin of 3-to-2 over Lansing Mayor Virg Benero.
Because he had next to no background in GOP politics, Snyder’s was distrusted by many activist conservatives. However, the governor-elect rallied the right with his choice of stalwart conservative and 33-year-old State Rep. Brian Calley for lieutenant governor and a ticket of Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson for secretary of state and former Rep. (1984-90) Bill Schuette for attorney general. All were elected handily.
Michigan GOPers maintained control of the state senate, took over the state House of Representatives, and elected incumbent Justice Bob Young and local jurist Mary Beth Kelly to win a majority on the seven-judge Supreme Court.
New York: Something to Cheer About
Despite losing races for every statewide office, New York Republicans nevertheless had a few things to cheer about last week.
There were five new U.S. House Members who won formerly Democratic districts in the Empire State: Chris Gibson (NY-23), Michael Grimm (NY-13), Nan Hayworth (NY-19), and Richard Hanna (NY-24), and Tom Reed (NY-29). Lawyer Matt Doheny lost a heartbreaker of a race in NY-23, with the difference between him and Democratic Rep. Bill Owens made by Conservative Doug Hoffman (who had withdrawn from the race, but not in time to get his name off the ballot).
With three races undecided, Republicans needed to win two to take control of the state senate.
Ohio: Controlling the Process
In electing former ten-term Rep. John Kasich as their new governor, Ohio Republicans also won all of the other statewide offices on the ballot last week.
Most significantly, Buckeye State GOPers captured the office of secretary of state and auditor. Coupled with Kasich in the governor’s chair, it means that Republicans will control the three offices that draw the lines for congressional and legislative redistricting next year.
The only part of Ohio that seemed invulnerable to the Republican sweep was in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). Despite a scandal involving sex and financial rewards in return for favors from the county Democratic organization, Democrats still managed to win the new office of county executive. Lakewood Mayor Ed Fitzgerald beat Republican State Rep. Matt Dolan for the office which (which replaces the old system of county commissioners).
Pennsylvania: On the House
For all the hard work that went into electing Pat Toomey U.S. Senator and Tom Corbett governor—not to mention the pickup of five Democratic-held U.S. House seats—Pennsylvania conservatives put just as much elbow grease behind retaking control of the state House of Representatives.
They succeeded at it. In taking eight Democratic-held seats—including the defeat of House Democratic Leader Todd Eachus—Keystone State GOPers lost only one (that of former House Speaker John Perzel of Philadelphia, soon to go on trial for corruption charges). State Rep. Sam Smith of Allegheny is expected to be elected the new speaker and State Rep. Mike Turzai of Pittsburgh, a favorite of conservative activists, is expected to become the new majority leader.