When gavels come down across the nation, the complexion of the legislative chambers will have changed--ever so slightly--because of the November elections. Only New Jersey and Virginia elected legislators, governors and other statewide officials in 2017, but another nine states held special elections for legislative seats.
A single win in a special election for a Washington Senate seat gave Democrats total control--both chambers and the governorships--in that state, in Oregon and in California.
Virginia House of Delegates, in Republican control since 2000, was the surprise reward for Democrats. Republicans held 66 of the 100 seats on Nov. 8. When the votes were counted, the Democrats had snared at least 15 of them. Flipping seats also meant flipping genders. When the House comes to order on Jan. 10, there will be 11 more women in the chamber. At press time, several seats were under recount, so final party control had yet to be determined. The Senate was not up for election.
The Georgia Senate has one more Democrat in its ranks following the election, and across the rotunda, two Democrats unseated Republicans in the House. In all, Democrats won about 24 legislative seats around the country and now hold about 30 more seats than they did in 2016.
Going into the 2017 race, Republicans controlled both chambers in 32...