State elections to pay attention to in November


So much of what heats up our national conversation right now — abortion, democracy, gerrymandering — is really decided in the states. That’s where power is concentrated to make big changes on key issues. Congress can’t agree on a federal abortion protection (or ban), but states are quickly changing abortion laws. States run elections, including the presidential vote. And states get to draw district lines that help shape which party controls Congress.

So, if states are so important, what are the big battles for state legislatures in November’s midterm elections? Thousands of state legislators are up for election in almost every state.

The current layout: Republicans dominate state legislatures, as they have for the past decade. Republicans control entire legislatures in 30 states, compared with Democrats’ control in 17 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That’s in part because Democratic voters tend to be concentrated in a smaller number of states, and because Republicans have been more devoted than Democrats to winning these lower-profile races.

Antiabortion demonstrators at the Indiana Statehouse this summer as that state moved toward its near-total abortion ban. (Michael Conroy/AP)

What could happen in 2022: The likeliest options are that not much changes or that Republicans expand their majorities. They are hoping to flip Democratic-controlled chambers in Colorado, Nevada and Maine.

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Democrats would love to kick Republicans out of control in presidential swing states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, but those wins are long shots, even with the leftward momentum after the fall of Roe v. Wade. State Republicans have done such a good job inoculating themselves through gerrymandering over the years that Democrats are almost constantly playing catch-up.

“Democrats are playing more defense this year,” said Democratic strategist Carolyn Fiddler, who focuses on state legislature races.

Your questions about the New York lawsuit against Trump

The Post’s two top reporters on this story, Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, took questions today about the state of New York suing Donald Trump and his company, accusing them of financial fraud. Here’s some of that conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity:

Q: New York Attorney General Letitia James was a vocal Trump critic. Does this create any reason to doubt the fairness and legitimacy of the lawsuit? Might Trump lawyers have a case to challenge it?

Shayna Jacobs: It is possible Trump’s legal team will try to argue her past statements are proof of political influence if/when they seek to get the case dismissed. However, they have already filed a federal lawsuit against James claiming her investigation was malicious and biased and that matter was thrown out.

Q: Why is this different? Trump always seems to wiggle out of [legal troubles].

Jonathan O’Connell: Trump has not always wiggled out of civil cases. He paid a $25 million fine and had to shut down Trump University after the New York attorney general brought a suit against him. He had to shut down his foundation and pay additional fines for mismanagement of charitable funds in another New York case there. So there is reasonable concern that his business could be severely impacted by this suit.

Q: If Trump becomes president in 2024, would that derail this lawsuit?

Shayna: If Trump were to win another election with the lawsuit still pending, his getting elected could delay the proceedings. A number of other lawsuits pending against him when he was in office were essentially put on hold (but not dismissed).

Q: Can Trump and his family pay back the $250 million easily or will it be difficult for them?

Jonathan: It would not be hard for the family to come up with. Trump received more than $600 million alone from the refinancing of two office buildings he has minority stakes in, he took in $100 million or so in selling his D.C. hotel lease and he still enjoys great flexibility in using political funds for his own legal fees. He’s got the money.

A thought about Trump

Trump's campaign announcement in 2015. (Richard Drew/AP)

Trump’s campaign announcement in 2015. (Richard Drew/AP)

Since the day Trump glided down the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 to announce his candidacy for president, I’ve heard a consistent sentiment on the left: Why can’t the media and his opponents just ignore him?

Well, Trump made that difficult right off the bat with controversy. (“They’re rapists,” he said of some immigrants.) And then it became impossible to ignore him when he started leading in the polls, became the GOP nominee and became president.

Now that he’s out of office, he’s still getting a ton of attention, and for good reason: His legal troubles are real, and so is his push for the GOP to become more anti-democratic. But at least one of his advisers now says Trump would struggle politically without all the headlines. Here’s what one of his former White House advisers told The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein:

“If the media, if the Democrats, if the New York attorney general and the Department of Justice just left this guy alone, you would see his numbers among Republicans fade, I guarantee it. He is constantly getting attacked by these people, who our voters hate. That is what cleaves the base to him.”

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