Republicans hold on to state legislative edge in U.S. election

November 9, 2016 6:57 AM EST

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station set up in a garage near Fernald, Iowa. REUTERS/Scott Morgan


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By Karen Pierog

(Reuters) - Republicans will continue to dominate state legislatures in the wake of Tuesday's election, which kept their party in control of Congress and put Donald Trump in the White House, legislative analysts said on Wednesday.

After an election in which more than 80 percent of 7,383 state legislative seats nationwide were up for grabs, Republicans and Democrats were likely to control the same number of chambers they had previously, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which is still compiling voting results.

Republicans, who have dominated control of legislatures since the 2010 mid-term election, held the majority in 67 of the country's 98 partisan legislative chambers, while Democrats had 31 going into the election. Nebraska's single chamber is nonpartisan.

"Neither party can sort of boast of having a big night down on the state level," NCSL elections analyst Tim Storey said. "Republicans will remain in a dominant position in terms of policy making."

In Kentucky, Republicans took over the House of Representatives for the first time since 1921, while defeating longtime Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, according to the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee.

That result leaves Republicans in control of all 30 legislative chambers in the U.S. South for the first time in history, Storey said.

Republicans also wrested control of the Iowa Senate and the Minnesota Senate from Democrats, according to NCSL.

Democrats hit their target in the New Mexico House of Representatives, gaining a majority of seats, and took over both chambers of the Nevada Legislature.

In Hawaii, the only Republican in the Senate was ousted, making the Democratic-controlled chamber the first all one-party state legislative chamber since 1980. One chamber, the Connecticut Senate, came out of the election tied.

Democrats retained control of the Illinois Legislature but lost their veto-proof majority in the House after Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and his top donors invested tens of millions of dollars in a bid to weaken long-serving Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The control of the New York Senate was still undetermined, NCSL said.

Missouri's legislature and governor's office will be totally under Republican control after Eric Greitens won the race to succeed term-limited Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. Vermont will be split with the election of Republican Phil Scott as governor.

Republicans extended their majority of U.S. governorships in Tuesday's vote.

(Reporting By Karen Pierog, additional reporting by Dave McKinney; Editing by Grant McCool and Bill Trott)



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