2006 State Races Could Changes Political Landscape
Mid-term elections this year for 46 state legislatures and 36 governorships may provide a better gauge of voter sentiment on the direction of the country than races in the U.S. Congress, where all 435 House seats and 33 seats in the Senate will be up for grabs.
The Republicans currently hold a majority of 28 to 22 in the governor’s mansions, but 22 of their seats will be contested compared to only 14 of the seats held by Democrats. Even more of a challenge for the GOP, in all but one of the nine open races where there will be no incumbent in the running, the vacancy for the governorship is being created by a Republican.
2006 will mark the departure of such political stalwarts as Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New York Governor George Pataki, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
A noteworthy trend among state governments, no matter their party affiliation, is increasing independence from federal legislators on such issues as Hurricane Katrina, stem cell research, No Child Left Behind, prescription drug costs, the use of the National Guard and the national debt.
After more than a decade of GOP domination over the state capitols, the balance of power could be headed back this year to a more even split. In the 1990s, Republicans made huge strides in large states like Texas, Georgia and Florida, while scoring success in traditional Democratic states like Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Hawaii.
Democrats are facing difficult gubernatorial contests in Michigan and Wisconsin this year, but states where the Republicans are vulnerable include New York, Massachusetts, Ohio and California. Even current Republican Governors Association Chairman Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) has conceded that the numbers are not in the GOP’s favor.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the top challenges for the states this year include: planning for emergencies, closing the energy gap, tax and spending limits, eminent domain, funding for education, immigration and stem cell research.
For a copy of NAHB’s State & Local Political Operation’s “2006 State Political Outlook Report,” click here.
For more information on state political races, e-mail Ashley Feaster or Carlos Gutierrez at NAHB, or call them at 800-368-5242, x8126 and x8242, respectively.