Great gains nationwide in state legislatures, and then there is Illinois

By now we all know the tragic tale of Bill Brady’s failure to win the governor’s office earlier this month. The difficult part about close elections is that any number of things could’ve altered the outcome, and there are a lot of valid and invalid theories put forth as to why a campaign fell short.

This column has argued and will continue to argue that Brady’s loss was related to our paltry gains in the state house and state senate. Odd as it is, Illinois voters went through their ballots picking both Republicans and Democrats. The worst example I’ve always believed was their decision to reelect President Reagan in 1984 while sending the far-left wing liberal Paul Simon to the U.S. Senate. It’s nonsensical, but unless voters are convinced to take one direction, they’ll take two.

Illinoisans split their ticket on the statewide races and then, while sending four new Republicans to Congress, kept both houses of the General Assembly under Democratic Party control.

Why did that happen? People were given good reasons to replace D’s with R’s for Congress but weren’t for all of those G.A. races. That’s a terrible shame – especially when our GOP state “leaders” have had EIGHT FULL YEARS in the minority and plenty of time to develop an alternative vision and learn how to connect with Illinoisans so they’d win their vote on election day.

Even with a little information about why they should vote for state-level Republicans, the GOP here could have ridden the national wave. And a wave it was. The following is from the National Council of State Legislatures.

Republicans Make Historic Gains

“Republicans have added over 675 seats to their ranks in this election, dramatically surpassing 1994 gains. This number could go even higher as the tallies in the undecided races are determined. The chamber switches thus far are all Democratic to Republican except for Montana House which was tied and is now Republican, and the Oregon House which was Democratic and is now tied.”

After the undecided races are tallied, the number of Republican pick-ups could be as high as 680 or 690. That’s the most pick-ups since 1928. 1928!

And the Republican gains here in Illinois? Six in the house and two in the senate. Only 8!

Lest you think it was some kind of Midwest phenomenon, nope. Republicans won control of the state houses in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and both chambers in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

By the way, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota haven’t exactly been GOP strongholds in recent years.

One more note from the NCSL:

“This is the first time in Alabama that Republicans have controlled the legislature since reconstruction. The North Carolina Senate has not been Republican since 1870. And Republicans have reportedly taken over 100 seats in the New Hampshire House. For the first time in history, the Minnesota Senate will be controlled by the GOP.”

Historic indeed. Except in Illinois, where the Republican Party should win the award for the organization most in need of being taken over by the platform-supporting people found in tea party and 9/12 patriot groups.

The NCSL has a map of the makeup of the state legislatures before election day along with a video analysis of what happened on Nov. 2nd here. Below is their map for what the post-election state legislature makeups will be. Learn more on their web page here.

©2010 John Francis Biver