The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
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● MI Legislature: Michigan Democrats capped off an extraordinary night by seizing control of both the state House and Senate, wins that give the party its strongest influence in state government since the early 1980s. These flips, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election victory, put Democrats in control of the governing trifecta needed to pass legislation, while Team Blue also kept the state Supreme Court majority it won in 2020.
Observers have speculated that Democrats could use their newfound power to change anti-labor “Right to Work” laws and implement gun-safety legislation. However, Team Blue will have no room for error, as the party appears set to hold a tiny 20-18 majority in the Senate and a 56-54 edge in the House. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who was re-elected on Whitmer’s ticket, would be able to break ties in the upper chamber, but not in the House.
Republicans took control of the state Senate, which is only up in midterm cycles, all the way back in 1984 when they won the races to replace two Democratic incumbents that voters had just recalled at the end of the prior year (which tied the chamber). Those flips deprived Democrats of the trifecta they’d only gained less than a year before and wouldn’t get back until now. Republicans had complete control of the redistricting process following the next three cycles, and they used it to make sure they never lost control of the upper chamber.
The state House, which is on the ballot every two years, was more volatile for much of this time, but Democrats have been locked out of the speaker’s chair since the 2010 red wave and subsequent gerrymander. Indeed, while Democratic House candidates won more votes than GOP candidates in almost every cycle during the 2010s, the GOP never surrendered power.
However, while Whitmer’s decisive 2018 victory wasn’t enough to cost the GOP power in either the House or Senate, that year also saw voters approve the creation of an independent redistricting commission to draw new lines in place of the state legislature. The new maps by no means assured Team Blue victories in either chamber, but it gave the party openings it hadn’t had in a very long time―openings the party very much seized on in 2022 as Whitmer was defeating Republican Tudor Dixon and voters were approving the pro-choice Proposal 3.
● Holy crap, what an amazing night! Where do we even begin this week's episode of The Downballot? Well, we know exactly where: abortion. Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard recap Tuesday's extraordinary results, starting with a clear-eyed examination of the issue that animated Democrats as never before—and that pundits got so badly wrong. They also discuss candidate quality (still really important!), Democratic meddling in GOP primaries (good for democracy, actually), and "soft" Biden disapprovers (lots of them voted for Democrats).
The Davids then catalog the uncalled races for Senate and game out what might happen in the House; review the clean sweep for the good guys in five states that had abortion-related measures on the ballot; and finish off with some delicious, gourmet schadenfreude. You won't want to miss out!
We're almost at 1,000 subscribers on Apple Podcasts, so we'd love it if you'd subscribe to The Downballot there. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time. New episodes every Thursday morning!
You can stay on top of of all uncalled races with our key races tracker, which we’ll be updating continually until every last race is settled.
Here are where each of the uncalled House races stand as of Thursday morning according to the Associated Press, as well as what percentage of the vote the AP estimates is reporting.
- AK-AL: Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola leads Republican Sarah Palin 47-27 with 80% in, while Republican Nick Begich is at 24%. The state plans to run instant runoff tabulations on Nov. 23.
- AZ-01: Democrat Jevin Hodge leads GOP Rep. David Schweikert 50.8-49.2 with 73% in.
- AZ-04: Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton leads Republican Kelly Cooper 57-43 with 73% in.
- AZ-06: Republican Juan Ciscomani leads Democrat Kirsten Engel 51.5-48.5 in this Democratic-held seat with 67% in.
- CA-03: Republican Kevin Kiley leads Democrat Kermit Jones 53-47 in this GOP-held seat with 44% in.
- CA-06: Democratic Rep. Ami Bera leads Republican Tamika Hamilton 56-44 with 29% in.
- CA-09: Democratic Rep. Josh Harder leads Republican Tom Patti 56-44 with 43% in.
- CA-13: Republican John Duarte leads Democrat Adam Gray 50.1-49.9 in this Democratic-held seat with 50% in.
- CA-15: Assemblyman Kevin Mullin leads his fellow Democrat, San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, 56-44 with 46% in.
- CA-16: Rep. Anna Eshoo leads her fellow Democrat, Rishi Kumar, 58-42 with 51% in.
- CA-21: Democratic Rep. Jim Costa leads Republican Michael Maher 53-47 with 58% in.
- CA-22: Republican Rep. David Valadao leads Democrat Rudy Salas 54-46 with 39% in.
- CA-23: Republican Rep. Jay Obernolte leads Democrat Derek Marshall 61-39 with 40% in.
- CA-26: Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley leads Republican Matt Jacobs 54-46 with 51% in.
- CA-27: Republican Rep. Mike Garcia leads Democrat Christy Smith 58-42 with 44% in.
- CA-29: Rep. Tony Cardenas leads his fellow Democrat, Angelica Duenas, 62-38 with 44% in.
- CA-34: Rep. Jimmy Gomez leads his fellow Democrat, David Kim, 53-47 with 44% in.
- CA-35: Democratic Rep. Norma Torres leads Republican Mike Cargile 56-44 with 41% in.
- CA-37: State Sen. Sydney Kamlager leads her fellow Democrat, former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, 61-39 with 44% in.
- CA-38: Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez leads Republican Eric Ching 53-47 with 45% in.
- CA-40: Republican Rep. Young Kim leads Democrat Asif Mahmood 59-41 with 58% in.
- CA-41: Democrat Will Rollins leads Republican Rep. Ken Calvert 54-46 with 37% in.
- CA-45: Republican Rep. Michelle Steel leads Democrat Jay Chen 55-45 with 56% in.
- CA-46: Democratic Rep. Lou Correa leads Republican Christopher Gonzales 58-42 with 61% in.
- CA-47: Democratic Rep. Katie Porter leads Republican Scott Baugh 22.214.171.124 with 58% in.
- CA-49: Democratic Rep. Mike Levin leads Republican Brian Maryott 51-49 with 51% in.
- CO-03: Democrat Adam Frisch leads Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert by 64 votes with 98.5% in.
- MD-06: Republican Neil Parrott leads Democratic Rep. David Trone 51-49 with 73% in.
- ME-02: Democratic Rep. Jared Golden leads Republican Bruce Poliquin 48-45 with 95% in, while independent Tiffany Bond takes the balance. State election officials have already announced instant runoff tabulations will take place Nov. 15.
- MT-01: Republican Ryan Zinke leads Democrat Monica Tranel 50-46 with 93% in.
- NV-01: Democratic Rep. Dina Titus leads Republican Mark Robertson 51-47 with 88% in.
- NV-03: Democratic Rep. Susie Lee leads Republican April Becker 50.8-49.2 with 88% in.
- NV-04: Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford leads Republican Sam Peters 51.5-48.5 with 88% in.
- NY-22: Republican Brandon Williams leads Democrat Francis Conole 50.7-49.3 with 95% in.
- OR-05: Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer leads Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner 51.3-48.7 in this Democratic-held seat with 73% in.
- OR-06: Democrat Andrea Salinas leads Republican Mike Erickson 49.7-48.1 in this brand new seat with 61% in.
- WA-03: Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez leads Republican Joe Kent 52-48 in this GOP-held seat with 70% in.
- WA-08: Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier leads Republican Matt Larkin 53-47 with 65% in.
attorneys general and secretary of state
Here’s the rundown of uncalled contests for attorney general and secretary of state:
- AZ-AG: Democrat Kris Mayes holds a tiny 50.1-49.9 edge over Big Lie promoter Abraham Hamadeh with 70% in.
- AZ-SoS: Democrat Adrian Fontes leads Big Lie spreader Mark Finchem 52-48 with 70% in.
- NV-AG: Democratic incumbent Aaron Ford leads far-right Republican Sigal Chattah 50-45 with 79% in.
- NV-SoS: Election denier Jim Marchant leads Democrat Cisco Aguilar 48.3-47.6 with 79% in.
- WA-SoS: Appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs leads independent Julie Anderson 50-47 with 63% in, while write-ins make up the balance. This seat will be next be up for a full four-year term in 2024.
Mayors and County Leaders
Here’s a look at uncalled contests to lead major cities and counties. If the Associated Press is not tracking an uncalled race, we'll be using the number of ballots counted rather than the AP's estimated percentage reporting.
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Billionaire developer Rick Caruso is edging out Rep. Karen Bass 51-49 with 44% of the AP's estimated vote in; no new ballots are set to be counted until Friday. Caruso led Bass 42-37 the day after the June nonpartisan primary only for the congresswoman to finish with a 43-36 advantage once all the votes were in, and she's hoping for a repeat.
● Oakland, CA Mayor: City Councilman Loren Taylor leads his more progressive colleague, Sheng Thao, 53-47 in the ninth and final round of ranked choice tabulations with 37,000 ballots counted. Unlike in Alaska and Maine, Oakland conducts the instant-runoff process before all the votes are in.
● Orange County, CA Board of Supervisors: Democratic Supervisor Katrina Foley holds a 51-49 edge over Republican Pat Bates with about 150,000 votes in. A win for Foley in the new 5th District would give her party their first majority on the body since the 1970s.
The other two supervisor contests are all-Democratic affairs, while the GOP holds the two seats that aren't up until 2024. Incumbent Doug Chaffee, who has alienated the county party, is beating Sunny Park 57-43 with 83,000 votes counted. In District 2, which is the first majority Latino Board of Supervisors seat in county history, Kim Bernice Nguyen is edging out Vicente Sarmiento 50.1-49.9 with about 55,000 votes in.
● San Jose, CA Mayor: Matt Mahan leads Cindy Chavez 52-48 with 138,000 votes in. Mahan is supported by termed-out Mayor Sam Liccardo, who is close to business organizations, while Chavez has labor, the San Francisco 49ers, and the local police union in her corner. The winner will serve an abbreviated two-year term because of a ballot measure passed in June moving mayoral races to presidential cycles starting in 2024.
Prosecutors and Sheriffs
Finally, here's a look at where things stand in crucial elections for prosecutor and sheriff in counties across the country.
● Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Appointed Republican incumbent Rachel Mitchell leads Democrat Julie Gunnigle 52-48 with 1.07 million votes tabulated.
● Alameda County, CA District Attorney: Prosecutor Terry Wiley leads his more progressive foe, civil rights attorney Pamela Price, 52-48 with 150,000 ballots tabulated. The winner will succeed retiring incumbent Nancy O'Malley, who supports Wiley.
● Los Angeles County, CA Sheriff: Challenger Robert Luna leads conservative incumbent Alex Villanueva 57-43 with 44% of the estimated vote in; Los Angeles County is not scheduled to count more ballots until Friday. Both candidates identify as Democrats, but Villanueva has become a Fox News regular who, among many other things, has raged against the "woke left."
● San Francisco, CA District Attorney: Appointed District Attorney Brooke Jenkins leads John Hamasaki 56-44 in the third and final round of ranked choice tabulations with 143,000 ballots counted.
● King County, WA Prosecutor: Leesa Manion leads Jim Ferrell 55-44 with about 440,000 votes counted in the race to succeed Manion's boss, retiring incumbent Dan Satterberg. Bolts wrote last month that, while "Manion has cast herself as a cautious reformer," Ferrell is running to her right with "tough-on-crime messaging."
SENATE, GUBERNATORIAL, HOUSE
The following contests have been resolved since Wednesday morning.
● GA-Sen: Strap in, folks, cuz we're about to do it again: Media outlets have called a runoff in the Georgia Senate race, where Raphael Warnock currently has a narrow lead on Herschel Walker but is below the all-important 50% mark. The runoff will be much shorter than in 2020-21: It'll happen on Dec. 6, rather than in January.
● WI-Sen: A major bummer: CNN is calling the Wisconsin Senate race for Republican incumbent Ron Johnson, who has a 1-point lead on Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes with almost all votes counted. However, this outcome is a only a hold for the GOP. To somehow retake the Senate, Republicans would still have to win two of the three other uncalled races in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.
● KS-Gov, KS-AG: In a huge victory, multiple media outlets have now called the race for Kansas governor for Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly, who defeats state Attorney General Derek Schmidt for a second term. It seems very possible that the GOP's efforts to force an unsuccessful vote on a constitutional amendment to strip away abortion rights this summer activated new voters who may well have saved Kelly.
Unfortunately, the odious Kris Kobach has also made a successful comeback in his bid to replace Schmidt as attorney general, narrowly defeating Democrat Chris Mann despite a big underperformance in this decidedly red state.
● AZ-02: Republican Eli Crane has ousted Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran, who decided to run for re-election even after redistricting left him with a sprawling seat that would have favored Trump 53-45. O'Halleran put up a tough fight in a contest that attracted last-minute outside spending from both parties, but it wasn't enough.
● AZ-05: Republican Andy Biggs decisively defeated Democrat Javier Ramos in a dark red seat; it's not clear why the AP waited until Wednesday afternoon to call this one.
● CA-25, CA-28, CA-31, CA-33, CA-39, WA-10: California Democratic Reps. Raul Ruiz, Judy Chu, Pete Aguilar, Grace Napolitano, and Mark Takano, as well was Democratic Rep. Marilyn Strickland of Washington, have all easily prevailed in races that likely weren't called on election night because so many votes remained uncounted.
● CO-08: Democrat Yadira Caraveo captured this newly drawn seat for her party after Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer conceded on Wednesday evening, when Caraveo led 48.4-47.7 with 89% in.
● CT-05: The AP has called Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes the winner here; she led Republican George Logan 50.4-49.6 with 95% in.
● IA-03: Republican Zach Nunn won a tight race against Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne in a seat that Trump very narrowly would have carried. Nunn's victory means that Iowa will have an all-Republican congressional delegation next year, something that last happened in the GOP's 1994 midterm rout.
● IL-17: Democrats made Illinois' 17th District (open because former DCCC chair Cheri Bustos is retiring) bluer in redistricting, and it worked, as Democrat Eric Sorensen says his Republican opponent, Esther Joy King, has conceded. Sorensen is up 52-48 with most votes counted.
● MI-08: Another big call out of Michigan as Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee has held off Republican Paul Junge in what was an extremely expensive race.
● MI-10: The GOP has flipped Michigan's open 10th District, but wow it did not go as planned. Republicans thought they had a superstar recruit in Army veteran John James, who had lost two previous bids for Senate, and were sure he'd steamroll. That didn't happen. Democrat Carl Marlinga has conceded, but James is leading by less than 1% of the vote, in a race where the major outside Democratic groups spent nothing. Had Democratic Rep. Andy Levin sought re-election here rather than wage a quixotic bid against fellow Rep. Haley Stevens in the primary in the 11th, the outcome could have been very different.
● NJ-07: Media outlets have declared Republican Tom Kean Jr. the winner in his rematch with Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, making this a flip for the GOP. New Jersey Democrats actually hung Malinowski out to dry in redistricting, proposing a map (which the tiebreaking member of the state's bipartisan redistricting commission ultimately agreed to) that shored up several other Democratic seats while making Malinowski's redder. The race was still fairly close, though: With most votes counted, Kean is up 52-48.
● NM-02: Democrat Gabe Vasquez won a very competitive contest against far-right Rep. Yvette Herrell, who conceded Wednesday evening. Democratic map makers transformed the freshman’s southern New Mexico constituency from a 55-43 Trump seat into one Biden would have taken 52-46, but major groups on both sides spent hefty amounts here.
● NY-04: New York continues to be one of Tuesday's few dark spots for Democrats, as Republicans have now flipped a second open House seat on Long Island, the 4th District. There, Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito has defeated former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, leading 52-48 with most votes counted. On Tuesday night, Democrats also lost the neighboring 3rd District.
● NY-17: DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney, who set in motion a very unwelcome chain of events when he selfishly decided to switch to a more favorable district that only included a quarter of his constituents (instead of staying in the district where the remaining three-quarters of them lived), has conceded. He falls to Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler, making him the first party committee chair to lose a race since 1980.
● NY-18: Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan, who was elected in August in a big special election upset in the old 19th District, has turned back Republican Colin Schmitt 50.4-49.6 in a bright spot for Empire State Democrats.
● NY-19: But here’s another sucky New York result, this time from the upper Hudson Valley. Republican Marc Molinaro, who lost that famous special election this summer for the previous version of the 19th District, has now won a full term for the redrawn seat. With most votes counted, he's leading Democrat Josh Riley 51-49. This is yet another New York flip for Republicans.
● OR-04: NBC has called Oregon's open 4th District for Democrat Val Hoyle, who has a 51-43 lead on Republican Alek Skarlatos with a sizable chunk of votes still left to count. This is one of several House seats Democrats were defending in the state that had looked dicey toward the end, so chalk this one up as another good win.
● PA-07: Democratic Rep. Susan Wild has won her rematch against Republican Lisa Scheller, an impressive feat given that Biden's margin of victory dropped from 52-47 to just 50-49 following redistricting.
● PA-08: We keep saying it, but it keeps happening: another crucial hold for Democrats as Rep. Matt Carwright hangs on in Pennsylvania's Scranton-area 8th District, defeating Republican Jim Bognet.
● PA-12: Democrat Summer Lee has held Pennsylvania's open 12th District in the Pittsburgh area, meaning she'll become the first Black woman to ever represent the state in Congress. Republicans hoped confusion caused by the name of her GOP opponent—Mike Doyle, who just happens to have the same name as the retiring Democratic congressman who represents this district—would lead them to an upset.
The hawkish Israel-focused group AIPAC, which had spent heavily to defeat Lee in the primary (in part by falsely arguing she was insufficiently loyal to Joe Biden), also spent heavily to beat her again in the general election (exactly how the Republican Doyle might be more loyal to Biden is left as an exercise to the reader) but failed to stop her a second time.
● PA-17: Here's yet another major hold for Team Blue: Democrat Chris Deluzio successfully defended Pennsylvania's 17th District in the Pittsburgh suburbs, beating back Republican Jeremy Shaffer for the seat that Conor Lamb left open to unsuccessfully run for Senate. With most votes tallied, Deluzio is up 53-47.
● WI-03: Other media outlets had called the race on Tuesday night, but the AP (usually the most cautious of the race-callers) waited until Wednesday morning to declare Republican Derrick Van Orden the winner in Wisconsin's 3rd District. This was a seat left open by Democratic Rep. Ron Kind's retirement, so this is a flip for the GOP. The big national Democratic groups mostly triaged this race, which took place in an area that had been moving away from Democrats for some time. But the final result won't be a blowout: With most votes counted, Van Orden has a 52-48 lead.
attorneys general and secretaries of state
● CO-AG: Democratic incumbent Phil Weiser turned in a convincing victory over Republican John Kellner, a Denver-area district attorney. Kellner had very narrowly won re-election two years ago against strong headwinds at the top of the ticket, but Team Blue's solid showing in Colorado in 2022 was far too much for him.
● CO-SoS: Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold secured a second term by turning back Republican Pam Anderson.
● CT-SoS: Democrat Stephanie Thomas held this open seat for her party by beating Republican election denier Dominic Rapini, a victory that makes her the first woman of color elected statewide.
● FL-AG: Republican incumbent Ashley Moody pulled off a landslide victory over Democrat Aramis Ayala in what was a very strong night for her party in Florida.
● GA-AG: Republican Chris Carr has fended off Democrat Jen Jordan; Carr previously survived a Trump-driven primary challenge in May.
● GA-SoS: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is one of Trump's least favorite Republicans in the nation, won a second term by beating Democrat Bee Nguyen.
● IA-AG: Republican Brenna Bird narrowly defeated the longest-serving attorney general in American history, 10-term Democratic incumbent Tom Miller, after an expensive bout. Miller was first elected in 1978 on his second try, left in 1990 to wage an unsuccessful primary campaign for governor, and regained the office four years later.
● IN-SoS: Election denier Diego Morales beat Democrat Destiny Wells by double digits about a month after two women charged that the Republican nominee sexually harassed and groped them in the late 2000s. Morales previously beat incumbent Holli Sullivan at the spring party nominating convention by calling the 2020 presidential election a "scam" and pledging to "secure our elections."
● MI-AG, MI-SoS: Democrats have held both key downballot statewide posts in Michigan, fending off election deniers. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has turned back Kristina Karamo while Attorney General Dana Nessel has defeated Matthew DePerno on what was a very good night for Wolverine State Democrats indeed.
● MN-AG: Democrat Keith Ellison, Minnesota's attorney general, has survived a very close shave. With nearly all votes counted, he's up by less than a point, prompting the AP to call the race for him over Republican Jim Schultz.
● MN-SoS: Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon beat Republican Kim Crockett, a conspiracy theorist who dubbed the 2020 election "the big rig."
● NM-AG: Raul Torrez won the race to succeed his fellow Democrat, termed-out Attorney General Hector Balderas, by decisively defeating Republican Jeremy Gay.
● NM-SoS: Democratic incumbent Maggie Toulouse Oliver convincingly turned back Republican Audrey Trujillo, an election denier who has shared a QAnon conspiracy theory insinuating that President Joe Biden is dead and has been replaced by a clone.
● TX-AG: Republican Ken Paxton, who has spent most of his two terms under federal indictment for securities fraud, won re-election against Democrat Rochelle Garza.
● VT-AG: Democrat Charity Clark reclaimed this office for her party by easily defeating Republican Mike Tagliavia, a win that will make her the first woman to hold this post. The GOP temporarily took control of the attorney general's office in June after Gov. Phil Scott appointed Susanne Young to succeed Democrat TJ Donovan, who resigned shortly after announcing that he would not seek re-election, but Young did not seek a full two-year term.
● WI-AG: Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul held on in this swing state by turning back Republican Eric Toney.
● Ballot Measures: Pro-choice activists won referendums in California, Michigan, and Vermont to enshrine reproductive rights into their respective state constitutions. The most competitive of these contests was Michigan's Proposal 3, which attracted heavy spending from both sides but still decisively passed 57-43.
Progressives also beat a measure in Kentucky that would have amended its governing document to say it does not recognize a right to an abortion. This 52-48 victory came on extremely red turf, but the battle over abortion rights is far from over there. Cases challenging the Bluegrass State's abortion bans are still pending in the courts, and the state Supreme Court may yet uphold them. However, the justices at least will be free to decide these challenges on the merits, rather than having the decision taken from them.
Montana’s LR-131, another anti-choice question that would require "health care providers to take necessary actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant" or face up to 20 years in prison, was rejected 53-47 as well.
Alaskans, meanwhile, overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to hold a state constitutional convention, which progressives feared could be used to get rid of the state's abortion rights protections. Voters in Missouri and New Hampshire also said no to the constitutional convention questions on their ballots, though neither of those campaigns attracted much energy on either side. Both Alaska and New Hampshire are set to automatically consider another constitutional convention in 10 years, while the next Missouri vote is in 2038.
● State Supreme Courts: Five states held key elections for their supreme courts on Tuesday with major consequences expected on issues such as abortion rights, fair redistricting, and voting rights, and the results were a decidedly mixed bag. On the one hand, Democrats held onto their majorities in Illinois and Michigan, and a moderate justice defeated a conservative challenger in Montana. However, Republicans flipped control of the court in North Carolina and fended off Democratic efforts to flip the 4-3 GOP majority in Ohio, where Republicans simultaneously replaced a key GOP moderate with a hardliner. We'll delve into each state below:
● Illinois: Illinois is one of just four states that elects its Supreme Court using districts, but while Democrats last year passed a new court map to remedy six decades of malapportionment, the two districts most likely to determine which party controlled the court are still somewhat less Democratic than Illinois is as a whole. Consequently, the court's 4-3 Democratic edge was vulnerable heading into election night, but Team Blue retained its majority after Democrat Elizabeth Rochford decisively defeated Republican Mark Curran in the open 2nd District in Chicago's northern and western suburbs, where she led 54-46 with almost all of the vote counted.
Meanwhile, Democrat Mary O'Brien holds a 50.6-49.4 edge over GOP Justice Michael Burke in the 3rd District located in the Chicago area's southern and western suburbs, and Burke has conceded. O'Brien’s win expanded the Democratic majority to 5-2, and the party could keep control for at least the next decade.
● Michigan: Democrats here were also defending their 4-3 majority going into yesterday's elections, and that balance of power will remain unchanged following Tuesday. Michigan's court elections are nominally nonpartisan, but candidates are nominated by parties in summertime conventions, and voters were given two votes for the two seats on the ballot. As of Thursday, Democratic Justice Richard Bernstein holds a wide 34-24 edge over Republican Justice Brian Zahra, who narrowly won the second seat against Democratic challenger Kyra Bolden Harris, who was in a close third place with 22%. The final Republican, Paul Hudson, was in a distant fourth with 13%.
● Montana: Unlike the other courts on this list, the Montana Supreme Court elects its members in officially nonpartisan elections and the court's ideological balance heading into 2022 was somewhat tricky to pin down, but observers generally agree that three justices are liberal-leaning, two are conservatives, and two are often swing votes. That balance of power will also remain after Democratic-appointed swing Justice Ingrid Gustafson fended off Republican challenger James Brown by a 54-46 margin with 89% of the estimated vote counted according to the Associated Press.
● North Carolina: While Illinois and Michigan were bright spots for Team Blue, North Carolina was a monumental blow to both Democrats and democracy itself. Democrats held a slim 4-3 edge going into the elections, but Republicans flipped both seats on the ballot Tuesday to gain a 5-2 majority, the GOP's first since losing it in 2016. With nearly all votes counted, Republican Trey Allen beat Democratic Justice Sam Ervin 52-48, while Republican Richard Dietz defeated fellow Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, a Democrat, by 53-47 (both margins round to 5 points).
The GOP's newfound majority will almost certainly overturn a 4-3 party line ruling from the court's prior Democratic majority earlier in 2022 that had struck down the GOP's congressional gerrymander and replaced it with a much fairer map temporarily for this year's elections; since Republicans held onto the legislature and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper can't veto redistricting bills, the GOP is poised to pass another extreme congressional gerrymander for 2024.
● Ohio: Much like North Carolina, Ohio's court results were a major loss for Democrats and for fair elections after Republicans held onto all three seats up for election on Tuesday. In the open seat race for chief justice, Republican Sharon Kennedy beat fellow Associate Justice Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, by 56-44, though Brunner will retain her current seat on the bench. Additionally, GOP Justice Pat DeWine, who is the son of GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, prevailed 57-43 over Democrat Marilyn Zayas, while fellow Republican Justice Pat Fischer won by a similar 57-43 spread against Democrat Terri Jamison.
After Democrats had unexpectedly flipped three seats on the court between 2018 and 2020, moderate Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor had sided with her three Democratic colleagues to strike down Republican lawmakers' gerrymanders twice for Congress and five times for the legislative maps heading into 2022. But the court was unable to adopt its own districts after Republicans ran out the clock while the litigation over those maps continues into 2023, and O'Connor was unable to run for re-election this year after reaching the mandatory retirement age.
Following their defeats in 2020 and 2018, GOP lawmakers had made Supreme Court elections partisan contests heading into 2022, and that may have made a pivotal difference, allowing them to both hold onto their court majority and in doing so replace O'Connor with a justice who will almost certainly uphold the GOP's gerrymanders next year, since Gov. DeWine will now get to appoint Kennedy's replacement as associate justice. Ohio's court is also likely to eventually rule on the legality of a Republican-backed abortion ban law.
● State Legislatures: While the biggest Democratic state legislative flips in the nation were arguably its historic victories in the Michigan state House and Senate, those weren't the only chambers that went from red to blue.
Minnesota Republicans acknowledged Wednesday that they'd lost control of the Senate for the first time in six years and would remain in the minority in the House: Those pickups, along with Democratic Gov. Tim Walz's re-election win, gives Team Blue control of the trifecta that they lost in 2014. The upper chamber is only up in years ending in -2, -6, and -0, while the entire House stands for re-election every two years.
Over in Pennsylvania, state House Democrats say they've secured at least 102 of the 203 constituencies needed to recapture the majority they lost in the 2010 red wave, though Republicans have not conceded defeat. Team Red, meanwhile, kept its edge in the Senate, where only half of the chamber is up each cycle, though Democrats so far have netted a seat. Democratic gains came months after the bipartisan redistricting commission selected maps approved by four of the five members; in past years, the GOP had controlled the tie-breaking vote to ram through gerrymanders.
There are a few chambers where the situation is even more unsettled. In the GOP-held New Hampshire House, which is the largest state legislative chamber in the nation, unofficial results give the GOP leads in 203 of the 400 races. The clerk's office, though, acknowledged, "Important to note MANY of these races were close; recounts could change the makeup of the House." Republicans appear to have kept control of the Senate, which they aggressively gerrymandered earlier in the cycle.
The situation is also uncertain in both chambers of the Alaska legislature, especially since instant-runoff tabulations won't take place until Nov. 23. The state House is currently run by a coalition of Democrats, independents, and a few Republicans, and no one knows if GOP hardliners will be in charge for the first time in six years. The GOP leadership controls the Senate, but initial results show that it's possible enough Democrats and moderate Republicans will win in order to form their own coalition.
Arizona Republicans, meanwhile, appear set to keep their narrow majorities in the House and Senate, though that's not yet clear. Democrats, meanwhile, will keep control of both chambers in Colorado, Maine, New Mexico (though only the House was up this cycle), and Washington. The party also looks to be in good shape in Nevada and Oregon, though Democrats in the latter state could lose the 60% majorities needed to pass tax bills.
There were a few other chambers with high-stakes races even though control wasn't at stake. Wisconsin Republicans aimed to secure the two-thirds supermajorities they'd need to override vetoes from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who won re-election on Tuesday, but they fell just short: The GOP netted the one seat it needed for the Senate, but only three of the five necessary for the Assembly. Their counterparts in North Carolina, likewise, got the 60% Senate supermajority they needed to defy Gov. Roy Cooper but fell one seat short in the House.
Republicans in Florida, though, claimed the two-thirds in each chamber they wanted: As the Miami Herald explains, GOP leaders now have "the power to shut down debate, override rules that govern the lawmaking process, override a governor's veto and limit the ability of Democrats to influence the debate and to pass legislation."
Montana Republicans also appear to have won a historic supermajority. Unlike in most states, Republicans need two-thirds of the entire 150-person legislature to hit this threshold, not two-thirds of each chamber: A supermajority would let the GOP place constitutional amendments without any Democratic support, or even hold a constitutional convention. Democrats in the New York Senate, finally, are waiting to learn if they'll keep their two-thirds majority in the Senate.
Mayors and county leaders
● Little Rock, AR Mayor: Democratic incumbent Frank Scott fended off self-funding businessman Frank Scott in a rare blue bastion in this conservative state.
● DuPage County, IL Board Chair: Democrat Deb Conroy beat Republican Greg Hart 51-49 to run this historically red suburban county, and Hart has conceded. Conroy, whose party also retained control of the County Board, is the first woman to ever hold this post as well as the first Democratic county leader in living memory, saying, “We are still debating exactly how long it's been or if there has been a Democrat, so it's been at least a century.”
● Austin, TX Mayor: Two Democrats, state Rep. Celia Israel and former state Sen. Kirk Watson, have advanced to a Dec. 13 runoff. Israel, who would be both the city's first gay and Latina mayor, took first with 40% while Watson, who held this post from 1997 to 2001, secured 37%. Just like in San Jose, this race will be for an abbreviated two-year term.
● Harris County, TX Judge: Here's a very big hold for Democrats. Lina Hidalgo pulled off one of the biggest upsets of 2018 when she defeated a GOP incumbent to become judge of very populous Harris County, which is home of Houston and is the third-largest county in the country. (County judges in Texas are the equivalent of county executive elsewhere; they are not judicial positions.) She's now secured a second term, defeating Republican challenger Alexandra del Moral Mealer.
● Tarrant County, TX Judge: Republican Tim O'Hare extended his party's control of this large county by beating Democrat Deborah Peoples.
Prosecutors and Sheriffs
● Pasco and Pinellas counties, FL Attorney: Appointed Republican incumbent Bruce Bartlett decisively fended off Democrat Allison Miller.
● Marion County, IN Prosecutor: Democratic incumbent Ryan Mears, who was appointed in 2019, won a full term by convincingly turning back Republican Cyndi Carrasco.
● Bristol County, MA Sheriff: Democrat Paul Heroux narrowly unseated 25-year Republican Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a rare high-profile Trump ally in this dark blue state. Hodgson was infamous for the high suicide rate in his prison; the sheriff himself dismissed criticism, saying, "Jail shouldn't be a country club."
● Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Criminal justice reformer Mary Moriarty decisively defeated Holton Dimick in a race to succeed their fellow Democrat, longtime incumbent Mike Freeman.
● Forsyth County, NC District Attorney: Four-term Republican incumbent Jim O'Neill held off Democrat Denise Hartsfield in a close contest.
● Douglas County, NE Attorney: Democrat-turned-Republican incumbent Don Kleine won his fifth term in Nebraska's largest county by beating Democrat Dave Pantos.
● Oklahoma County, OK Prosecutor: Vicki Behenna won the race to succeed the retiring incumbent, fellow Democrat David Prater, by beating hardline Republican Kevin Calvey.
● Dallas County, TX District Attorney: Democratic incumbent John Creuzot decisively prevailed in his rematch against Faith Johnson, the Republican he unseated in 2018.
● Tarrant County, TX District Attorney: Phil Sorrells kept this post in GOP hands by beating Democrat Tiffany Burks.