Last week, Republicans expanded their majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives when 26-year-old Martina White won a special election in the 170th district. Expanding a legislative majority in a state that twice voted for Barack Obama is significant on its own, but expanding it because of the support of a unique coalition of Republican and traditionally Democratic-leading voters in a district in Philadelphia, a city where Republicans have not won an open General Assembly seat in 25 years, is extraordinary. The Republican wave did not end in November 2014, and White is just the latest Republican to win in Democratic territory this year.
In late January, a little-known candidate, Andrew Do, won a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in Southern California in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans. To do so, he beat a well-known Democrat and former legislator who had previously served in the California Assembly and Senate.
These recent 2015 wins on both coasts continue to build on historic blue state gains made in 2014, when Republicans won control of an all-time Party record of 69 of 99 state legislative chambers. 23 of those chambers, including seven of the nine new majorities won on Election Night 2014, are in blue states that President Obama carried twice.
When it comes to local politics, Republicans continue to show they understand how to win – even in Democratic territory. They do so by staying incredibly mindful of recruiting the right candidates with the right message in every district across the nation.
For better or worse, a campaign lives or dies with the candidate it runs. At the state and local level, Republicans are actively working to identify potential leaders who are ready to run and able to win. At the Republican State Leadership Committee, our Future Majority Project aims to identify, recruit, train and elect strong candidates from all communities who better reflect the full diversity of our nation. Similarly, our Right Women, Right Now initiative aims to recruit and elect more women who better reflect our nation’s electorate where women are 53 percent of the voters.
In 2014, 43 new Future Majority Project candidates and 138 new Right Women, Right Now candidates won their races in states across the country, several cutting into Democratic territory to do so. Many were the deciding factor in winning a Republican majority or ending a Democratic supermajority in their state’s legislative chambers. Janet Nguyen, a former Orange County supervisor whose position now belongs to Andrew Do, won a seat in the California Senate that ended the Democrats’ supermajority. Sarah Maestas Barnes and Conrad James won seats in the New Mexico House of Representatives, leading Republicans to the majority for the first time in 50 years. And Jill Upson won a seat in the West Virginia House of Representatives, which Republicans now control for the first time since 1931.
Each of these candidates won not only because of their personal strengths, but also because they shared the right innovative message. Voters have had six years of top-down, one-size-fits-all governance led by the Obama administration and echoed in Democrat-run states. Republicans understand that the most important government in people’s lives is not the one run out of Washington, but the one closest to home. It’s local and state governments that make the most important decisions for its citizens, from taxes to children’s education and fostering the right environment for businesses to grow.
Our candidates shared an open, pro-growth, bottom-up agenda that will lead businesses to thrive and citizens to succeed. And now in office, they are putting their new message to work. Already with many state legislative sessions still underway, we are seeing Republican-led legislatures prioritizing school choice, lowering taxes and overseeing strong in-state job growth.
As the Republican wave continues its spread into Democratic territory, voters across the nation will have a front row seat to witness the impact that innovative governing has at home. Our state and local candidates will continue to share their message for a better America and build on this progress in blue state territory as we move forward to 2016.