National State Legislative Chamber report
While much of the focus has been on national races, the reality is that divided government will likely mean more gridlock and less progress over the next two years from our federal government. The prospect of federal legislative gridlock provides an opportunity for state governments to play an ever-increasing role in developing policies that can – and likely will have national impacts. With so many legislative races on the ballot it is likely that we will see increasing activity as the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state governments continue to live up to the moniker leveled on them by the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis as the “laboratories of democracy,” by putting their respective stamps on various policy areas.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the 2022 general election saw voters in 46 states vote on 6,279 state legislative races, 36 governors and 133 statewide ballot measures. Going into the 2022 midterms, Republicans controlled 61 legislative chambers while Democrats controlled 37; Nebraska’s unicameral and nonpartisan legislature is not part of the count. Following better than expected results by the Democrats in the midterms, four Chambers will change partisan control, including: the Michigan House, Michigan Senate, the Minnesota Senate, and the Pennsylvania House, leaving Republicans in control of 57 to 41 for the Democrats. However, more change may be coming with results still undecided in Arizona and New Hampshire.
Despite Democratic pickups, Republicans still maintain a commanding lead in state legislative chambers and will thus control the legislative agenda in most states in the country. Another reality is the increasingly rare divided state legislative chambers, which hit a decades-long low in 2020, when only Minnesota was split. Heading into the 2023 legislative sessions, only Pennsylvania and Virginia are estimated to have split chambers. Between 2000 and 2018, the number of split legislatures averaged 7.7, and other than 2020, the last time it was that low was in 1914.1
Changes in Legislative Leadership
Changes in legislatures mean changes in leadership as well. Going into the 2022 midterm elections at least 32 of the top legislative leadership positions in the country will be held by someone new in 2023, due to a variety of factors, including retirements, term limits, and leaders choosing to run for a different office. Out of the top 108 legislative leaders across the states and territories, 32 were not returning, 24 were not up for reelection in this cycle, 20 ran unopposed, and 32 faced a challenger for re-election. According to NCSL data, there have been only two confirmed losses for incumbent leaders during the 2022 midterms:
- Iowa Republican Senate President Jake Chapman lost to a fellow incumbent – a Democrat who ended up in the same district after redistricting.
- West Virginia Democratic Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin lost to a Republican challenger.
As previously discussed, there will be new legislative leaders in chambers where partisan control changed hands and still others where changes may occur, Arizona and New Hampshire, both currently held by Republicans, which in at least one, New Hampshire, where estimates indicate the chamber could end up being tied after all ballots are counted.
Additionally, there are several races being watched to see what will happen with legislative leaders, including Nevada’s Democratic Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore, Steve Yeager, and the Arizona’s Republican House Majority Leader, Ben Toma, who is currently running second in a tight three-way race where the top two candidates will advance.2
In Illinois, both Democratic Party Majority legislative leaders were re-elected as were their Republican Party Minority legislative leader counterparts. However, there have been developments which indicate that the top legislative leadership positions in both Minority conferences will likely change hands. See below.
Illinois Government Update
United States Senate
Shortly after polls closed, incumbent United States Senator Tammy Duckworth claimed a second term over her Republican challenger. Despite early claims of a midterm “Red Wave,” Democrats never really feared that the junior senator from Illinois, a combat veteran who lost both legs in the Iraq War was in any real jeopardy.
Redistricting presented new challenges and opportunities for those running for office this year and based the midterm elections, Democrats will see a 14 – 3 advantage in the Illinois Congressional delegation in the upcoming Congress. This includes:
Open congressional races:
- IL-01: Democrat Jonathan Jackson, the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson, defeating Republican Eric Carlson.
- IL-03: Democratic State Rep. Delia Ramirez defeated Republican Justin Burau in the newly created congressional seat.
- IL-13: Democrat Nikki Budzinski defeated Republican Regan Deering.
- IL-17: Democrat Eric Sorensen claimed victory over Republican Esther Joy King.
Incumbents: Democratic incumbent winners, U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (IL-02), Chuy Garcia(IL-04), who recently threw his hat into the ring for Chicago Mayor see below, Mike Quigley (IL-05), Sean Casten (IL-06), Danny Davis(IL-07), Raja Krishnamoorthi(IL-08), Jan Schakowsky(IL-09), Brad Schneider(IL-10), Bill Foster (IL-11) and Lauren Underwood(IL-14).
Republican incumbent winners: U.S. Representatives Mike Bost (IL-12), Mary Miller (IL-15) and Darin LaHood (IL-16).
The race which garnered the most attention and was by far the most expensive in Illinois, pitted first term Governor JB Pritzker, scion of the Hyatt Hotel family, against downstate farmer and first term State Senator Darren Bailey. Pritzker easily prevailed in the race, 54 percent to 43 percent with the Associated Press calling the race in Pritzker’s favor moments after the polls closed. Pritzker, focused his campaign on several of his firm term successes, including balancing the state budget, raising the minimum wage and legalizing cannabis.
It is widely speculated that should President Joe Biden not seek re-election, Pritzker might make a bid for the White House. However, Pritzker routinely deflects efforts inquiring into his intentions and has instead made it clear he has no intentions of challenging the incumbent President of his Party.
Another of the high-profile statewide elections focused on the race between first term Democratic incumbent Attorney General Kwame Raoul and his Republican challenger, downstate attorney Tom Devore. The two clashed over several issues, among them criminal justice reform and COVID-19 mandates issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. DeVore actually rose to prominence following his filing lawsuits against the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders, saying Pritzker overreached his power and violated the constitution. Ultimately Raoul proved victorious garnering 54% of the vote to DeVore’s 43% with Libertarian candidate Daniel K. Robin receiving approximately 2% of the vote.
Other Statewide elected officials
Democratic incumbents also proved victorious in statewide races for Secretary of State, Comptroller and Treasurer.
In the Secretary of State’s race former Democratic Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias received 54% of the vote to defeat Republican Illinois State Representative Dan Brady 44% of the vote, in the race to replace longtime Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White. In the race for Comptroller, Democratic incumbent, Susana Mendoza won a second full term with 56% of the vote to claim victory over her Republican challenger, Shannon Teresi’s 42% of the vote. In the race for state Treasurer, Democratic incumbent Michael Frerichs won his third term with 54% of the vote against Republican Illinois State Representative Tom Demmer’s 44% of the vote.
Both State Representative Dan Brady and Tom Demmer are currently members of House Republican leadership and their departures will have a profound impact on leadership of the Minority caucus leadership in the upcoming 103rd General Assembly.
As a result of decennial redistricting, all 177 seats of the Illinois General Assembly including 59 in the Illinois Senate and 118 in the Illinois House of Representatives were up for election.
Going into the election Democrats in the Illinois Senate held 41 seats, a supermajority of seats in the chamber to 18 seats for Illinois Republicans. Following Tuesday’s elections, preliminary estimates show Democrats losing one seat, bringing their total to 40, still a supermajority in the chamber. The Chamber is currently led by Senate President Don Harmon, who ran unopposed in the General Election, and is serving his first full term as leader of the Majority party, while the Senate Republicans are currently led by Senate Minority Leader Don McConchie who won a hotly contested election 51% to 49%. Following the midterm election results, a group of thirteen members of the Senate Republican Caucus indicated their intention to support Senator John Curran as the new Senate Minority Leader, as of this writing Senator McConchie has not responded to the letter from his caucus.
Illinois House of Representatives
Following the ouster of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives elected the Chamber’s first African American Speaker in its history, State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch. The Democrats started the midterms with a supermajority of 73 seats in the chamber, to the Republicans 45 seats. With preliminary results, Democrats are projected to gain a net of four seats, bringing their total to 77 seats in the Chamber. Following Tuesday’s election results, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin announced his intention to not seek re-election as Minority Leader; with the departure of Deputy Minority Leader Tom Demmer, following his failed run for Illinois Treasurer and Assistant Minority Leader Dan Brady, following his failed run for Illinois Secretary of State, Republicans in the Illinois House appear headed for a protracted leadership battle. As of this writing, several names have emerged as candidates seeking to replace Durkin as Minority Leader, Reps. Tony McCombie, Marty McLaughlin and Tim Ozinga.
Illinois Supreme Court
Following two hotly contested races and millions of dollars in spending, Democrats held on to their 4-3 majority on the Illinois Supreme Court. Judge Elizabeth Rochford claimed a 54% to 46% victory over former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, who was seeking his first-ever judicial office. In the other race, Appellate Justice Mary Kay O’Brien won with a 51%-49% margin over incumbent Republican Justice Michael J. Burke. The court’s boundaries were redrawn for the first time in 58 years and with continuing discussions in abortion rights, gun control and workers’ rights, expect to see more activity at the state’s highest court in the next several years.
The country’s second largest county by population saw election of the county’s Chief Executive, County Board President, Clerk, Sheriff, Treasurer, Assessor and 17 member Board of Commissioners.
- Incumbent Cook County Board President Democrat Toni Preckwinkle was elected to her fourth four year term as Board President winning 68% of the vote to former alderman and Democrat turned Republican Bob Fioretti’s 29%.
- In the Cook County Clerk’s race, Incumbent Democrat Karen Yarbrough won re-election with 71% of the vote to former County Commissioner Republican Tony Peraica’s 27%.
- In the race for Cook County Sheriff, incumbent Democrat Tom Dart won with 73% of the vote over Republican Lupe Aguirre with 24% of the vote.
- In the race for Cook County Treasurer, incumbent Democrat Maria Pappas won with 74% of the vote compared to Republican challenger Peter Kopsaftis’ 23%.
- In the Assessor’s race, incumbent Democrat Fritz Kaegi won with 82% of the vote to Republican challenger Nico Tsatsoulis’ 18% of the vote.
- The Cook County Board of Commissioners, the legislative body of Cook County government, went into the midterm elections with a makeup of 15 Democratic members and 2 Republicans. Following the election, the partisan makeup will remain the same despite the addition of several new faces following retirements and defeats during the June primary.
City of Chicago
Voters across Illinois will have a short time to recover before municipal elections slated for early 2023 begin to dominate their focus. One of the municipal elections that will be top of mind will be in the city of Chicago where we will see elections for Mayor, Treasurer, Clerk and the entire 50-member City Council. In the race for Chicago Mayor, incumbent Lori Lightfoot faces a growing list of competitors, as of this writing, the list stands at 14 candidates, including several incumbent members of the City Council. However, this list could get smaller by month’s end if candidates are unable to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
One of the challengers recently entering the race was U.S. Rep. Jesus Chuy Garcia. Following his re-election to Congress, Garcia announced his intention to enter the race for Mayor and his entry poses what many believe to be an extremely credible threat to Mayor Lightfoot. In a bit of “good” news for Mayor Lightfoot, one of her former Council allies, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward), recently announced that despite his intention to retire from the City Council and a brief consideration of running for Mayor, he is not planning to enter the race. The decision by Ald. Tunney provides an opportunity for Lightfoot to reclaim support from North Side residents in his ward, residents who overwhelmingly supported her four years ago.