Magazine article Insight on the News

Don't Forget the Race for the Statehouses

Magazine article Insight on the News

Don't Forget the Race for the Statehouses

Article excerpt

The Washington press corps regularly trots out late House speaker Tip O'Neill's famous dictum, "All politics is local." But as the November elections loom, the inside-the-Beltway crowd appears to have forgotten the wisdom of that remark and almost totally has ignored the lowest rung of significant politics -- the state legislatures.

Hardly a word in the major newspapers can be read about what is happening down at that nuts-and-bolts level. And the networks? Forget it.

Washington bigwigs have a reasonable alibi -- their resources are stretched by a combination of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the early stages of an impeachment process and the congressional races. Maybe true, but the elections with the biggest long-term implications are the ones for the state legislatures and, thereafter, for the governorships.

If the GOP can retain its gubernatorial lead and add several legislatures, then the party is set to consolidate its congressional majority into the 21st century by controlling the post-2000 seat reapportionment. And all the signs are that the Democratic Party is continuing to disintegrate at the local level -- maybe it, too, has forgotten the O'Neill dictum.

GOP strategists are talking in terms of this November's electoral clash representing, in effect, a three-decade election. …

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