A single party controls the legislature and the governor’s mansion in 37 states, many of which are so liberal or conservative that either Democrats or Republicans hold permanent majorities. And that pushes some parties and advocacy groups that have little to do with each other in Washington together at the state level.
— The results have shown in recent primaries. The League of Conservation Voters and its Idaho state league celebrated big victories in last month’s Republican primaries, funding independent campaigns to boost two state legislative candidates against a state rep. and state sen. who were among local enviros’ biggest opponents.
— LCV has only endorsed a few federal Republicans in the last six years — only Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) in 2012, plus defeated ex-Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) — but it’s still working with GOPers at a state and local level. In Alabama, the state teachers’ union helped push three Republicans through state House primaries — though it spent about $7 million to do it and got shut out in state Senate primaries.
— Typically Republican-aligned groups work the same angles in Democratic-dominated states. The California Chamber of Commerce, for example, picked sides (and won) in several 2012 state Assembly general elections pitting two Democrats against each other, but it had been involved boosting moderate Democrats in primaries long before the state’s top-two primary.
Political alliances between parties and some of the big advocacy groups may seem cut and dry in Washington, but there’s another level of complexity in the states — especially where one-party rule naturally limits who you can work with.
— Scott Bland
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