Democrats Outline Targeted Chambers

By John Celock

National Democrats outlined a series of state legislative chambers they plan on targeting this year and for the rest of the decade.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee outlined eight legislative chambers in state capitals around the country they believe can be flipped from the GOP this year. On top of this, the DLCC previewed several chambers they want to make gains in this year in hopes of capturing control by 2020. The announcement comes as battles for control of state legislatures nationwide begin to heat up.

Republican currently control 60 out of 99 state legislative chambers nationwide.

“We have a clear sense of where the Democrats have a chance to take control in state leg chambers across the country,” DLCC executive director Michael Sargeant said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Sargeant said that the DLCC has identified the Arizona Senate, Arkansas House, Iowa House, Michigan House, Montana Senate, New Hampshire Senate, Pennsylvania Senate and Wisconsin Senate as top Democratic pick-up opportunities this year. On the long term list, Sargeant said that the Arizona House, Georgia House, Michigan Senate, Montana House, North Carolina House, North Carolina Senate, Ohio Senate, Pennsylvania House and Wisconsin Assembly were prime for pick-up in the future.

Sargeant said the list was developed following an analysis by the DLCC of the political circumstances in each state, along with fundraising goals and field programs. The announcement comes on the heels of a previous DLCC announcement outlining a new field program incorporating technology that the DLCC is deploying to legislative candidates nationwide.

Sargeant was joined in the called by a series of state legislative leaders from the targeted states who outlined how they believe they can win. Most talked about field and fundraising programs for their candidates, while others focused on attacking Republican leaders in their states.

Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) used the call to attack Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and GOP state legislative leaders for what he said was placing Wisconsin “dead last” in the Midwest economy. Larson noted the 2012 recall elections which gave Democrats a temporary majority in the state, but focused primarily on attacking Walker.

“Scott Walker is in the fight of his political life right now, as voters learn about his scandals and how his policies have hurt the Wisconsin economy,” Larson said on the call.

Larson was referencing reports that Walker’s staff may have coordinated with outside groups during the recall election.

Montana state Sen. Christie Kaufmann (D-Helena) used the call to outline the work Montana Democrats have done to positions themselves for gains in the Legislature this year. Among these has been employing field staff since the 2012 election around the state. She noted that the small size of legislative districts in Montana make it easier for candidates to campaign.

Sargeant said that he is confident that Democrats will be able to play in the state legislative races. He said that his party has been doing well in fundraising and voters are connecting with Democrats in state level races.

Republicans have long put a priority on state legislative races around the country, including in 2012 when the GOP made gains in state legislative chambers in several states won by President Barack Obama that year.

The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, the DLCC’s counterpart on the GOP side, is fighting back at Democrat’s suggestion that 2014 is their year.

“The DLCC is living in Fantasyland – 2012 was their shot at making big state level gains, and they clearly blew it,” RLCC communications director Jill Bader told The Celock Report. “The RLCC is proud to hold 60 of 99 legislative chambers, and with state level Democrats defending Obama’s flailing approvals, disastrous Obamacare rollout and EPA overreach, we expect 2014 to be a very good Republican year.”