December 13, 2014

THE ESTABLISHMENT STRIKES BACK:

Behind the GOP Statehouse Juggernaut (ALLYSIA FINLEY, Dec. 12, 2014, WSJ)

[F]lorida political veteran Bill McCollum, who laid out a battle plan that produced the party's statehouse coups. Over a recent lunch in downtown Orlando, Fla., he explained how Republicans did it, how they can capitalize on the wins, and what lessons the successes might hold for the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. McCollum is chairman of one of the least-known important outfits in American politics--the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), an outgrowth of the Republican National Committee formed in 2002 that plays in legislative, lieutenant governors' and secretary of state races. But "it was only in 2010 that the legislative campaign committee came into its own," Mr. McCollum says, establishing "a large network of relationships that allowed us to go out and play in a lot of legislative races."

You might say they overachieved: In 2010 Republicans picked up 675 legislative seats, flipped 21 chambers, and won complete control of 25 statehouses. This year Mr. McCollum credits a "perfect storm" of strong candidates, effective strategy and a highly charged political atmosphere that delivered 69 of 99 state legislative chambers to Republican hands, exceeding the party's previous high-water mark of 64 in 1920.

Republicans this year flipped nine state legislative chambers: the Colorado Senate; Maine Senate; Minnesota House; Nevada Senate and Assembly; New Hampshire House; New Mexico House and West Virginia House and Senate.

Next year, the GOP will control the legislatures and governorships in 23 states, while Democrats will enjoy hegemony in seven--California, Delaware, Oregon, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Bolstering the GOP's ranks in state government, Republicans will have 31 lieutenant governors, 28 secretaries of state and 27 attorneys general.

Mr. McCollum credits RSLC President Matt Walter and his predecessor, Ed Gillespie --who served as chairman from January 2010 until this winter, when he stepped down to run, unsuccessfully, for the U.S. Senate in Virginia--for building the outfit into a political powerhouse. This election cycle, the RSLC raised nearly $26 million, up from about $11 million a decade ago. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the RSLC's counterpart on the left, trailed badly, bringing in a little more than $9 million.

Posted by at December 13, 2014 8:39 AM
  

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