GOP predicts major state legislature gains this fall will help with redistricting

Republicans are forecasting widespread gains for the party this fall in legislative chambers across the country, which could give the party control over the redistricting process in a number of key states. 


Former Republican National Committee Chairman and current head of the Republican State Leadership Committee Ed Gillespie on Thursday predicted a minimum of 10 legislative chamber pick-ups for Republicans in 2010. 

“This is the first time a wave election year is taking place in a year that ends in a zero,” Gillespie said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor

“We plan on holding all of our chambers,” he said. “There are four states where we are very confident we’re going to win chambers — Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.”

Gillespie and RSLC Vice Chairman Tom Reynolds singled out another eight states where chambers are in play this fall: Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin. 

If the party could win control of legislatures in at least half of those states, along with winning the other four, it would mark the largest number of Republican chamber pick-ups since 1994.   

Along with the 37 gubernatorial races on the table in 2010, states legislatures are a major battleground in the fight over redistricting. In most states, legislative and gubernatorial races will end up determining which party has the upper hand when it comes to re-drawing district maps. 

The addition of Gillespie and Reynolds to the RSLC back in January marked a heightened sense of attention on 2010’s state races. The group is predicting it will raise upwards of $30 million to aid state legislative races this year.

Its Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, is zeroing in on Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, and plans to spend at least $20 million helping Democrats on the state level this year. 

If Democrats can win control of either the governorship in Texas or one chamber of the state legislature, it will at least give the party a seat at the redistricting table in a state that’s predicted to gain as many as four new House seats in the upcoming round of redistricting.

Last time around, Republicans held complete control of the redistricting process in Texas, which became ground zero for the partisan and legal battles.

Democrats worry what widespread Republican gains on the state level in 2010 will mean for the redistricting process. At a convention of liberal bloggers and activists last week, Democratic Governors Association Chairman Nathan Daschle warned the GOP could “gerrymander 30 House seats” if they score wins in a number of crucial governor’s races. 

Asked whether the Democrats’ newly-unveiled summer strategy to link the GOP to the Tea Party might be a problem for candidates, Gillespie dismissed it as a sign of Democratic desperation. 

“I know where they are,” Gillespie said. “I’ve been where they are. It’s really a sign of desperation. They usually wait until October to tell voters Republicans are going to eliminate Social Security and Medicare.”

Based on early census figures, Polidata predicted Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington would gain seats while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

-- This post was updated at 12:49 p.m.