Perhaps even more important than 2010′s Republican sweep in Congress was the corresponding sweep at the state level. Much of the worst Republican mischief took place at the state level, away from the spotlight of Washington.
While Democrats still are locked out of power in the South, they made significant gains outside the region, taking control of eight legislative bodies, while Republicans gained power in four. The power shift should help advance progressive aims across the country.
Marriage Votes Help Dems in Minnesota, Maine
The biggest prizes for Democrats were in Maine and Minnesota, where turnout boosted by votes on same-sex marriage helped Democrats gain flip control of both Houses and Senates.
In Maine, Democrats gained seven seats in the 35-member Senate, and took 17 seats in the 150-member House. The wins reverse gains made by Republicans two years ago, when Republicans gained control of the legislature thanks to the Republican wave and the coat-tails of Gov. Paul LePage.
Democrats are gleeful at the chance to stand up to LePage, who gained national notoriety for removing artwork from the Maine Department of Labor which depicted labor struggles.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the victory by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party gave Minnesota a House, Senate, and Governor from the same party for the first time since 1991. Pending a recount, DFLers gained either 12 or 13 seats in the 134-member House, and nine seats in the 67-member Senate.
The DFL benefited from two huge mistakes by the Minnesota Republican Party. The first was a scandal involving Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, who was revealed to have been having an affair with Michael Brodkorb, the pugnacious Senate Republican Caucus Communications Director.
Brodkorb was fired, and subsequently sued the state for sex discrimination; Koch was forced to step down as Senate leader. Coming just a year after Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time in over 30 years, the unforced error was a huge blow.
The other mistake came when Republican legislators put an anti-same sex marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot. While Republicans and some pundits thought the contentious issue would help turn-out among conservative voters, the fight instead energized progressives and young voters, who turned out in droves to beat back the amendment, and helped deliver the state house to the DFL.
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