GOP to invest $38M in legislative races

Democrats are planning to spend four times that amount.
The Pennsylvania state Capitol is seen on Dec. 14, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

The Republican committee focused on winning state legislative races announced Tuesday it intends to spend $38 million in key states this year.

In a memo to donors, the Republican State Leadership Committee said it will put the resources toward defending its vulnerable majorities, flipping Democrat-controlled chambers, protecting and obtaining supermajorities, and chipping away at Democratic strongholds.

The GOP will enjoy a record budget to help it accomplish those feats, though it’s only a fraction of the more than $160 million Democratic groups have pledged to spend by November.

“While we will never be able to match the constellation of national Democrat organizations that spend on state legislative races dollar for dollar, we can still fight back with smart, targeted investments of our own,” RSLC President Dee Duncan said.

Read more: Dems plan massive spending on legislative campaigns

The combined spending between Democrats and Republicans will likely amount to the most expensive battle ever for state legislatures. It comes as Democrats have continued to try to whittle down the damage inflicted in the 2010 elections, when the GOP secured a majority of the country’s 99 chambers.

Republicans now control 57 chambers to Democrats’ 41.

The legislative battleground map overlaps with the presidential map, setting up the rematch between President Biden and former President Donald Trump to play an outsized role in the outcome of down-ballot races.

Read more: Legislative battleground focused on presidential swing states

The GOP’s priorities start with defending its majorities in the following chambers: Arizona House and Senate; Wisconsin House and Senate; Pennsylvania Senate; New Hampshire House and Senate; and Georgia House and Senate.

On offense, Republicans are targeting the Michigan House, Pennsylvania House and Minnesota House.

Democrats are earmarking their own record amount of funds for state legislatures. The Democrat-aligned States Project announced this month plans to raise and spend $70 million; the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the official down-ballot arm of the national party, set a $60 million goal; and Forward Majority Action intends to spend $35 million.

To defend their slim majorities and add new ones, Democrats are pushing some resources to the states now, including a $10 million investment this month from the DLCC to help fortify campaign infrastructure in targeted states.

“If Democrats want to win at any level of the ballot, the party must focus on state legislatures and invest in the DLCC to protect fundamental freedoms, defend the path to the presidency, and enshrine Democratic power,” DLCC President Heather Williams said in a June 17 statement accompanying the committee’s Summer of States campaign launch.

Correction: This story initially misstated the number of chambers Democrats control. It is 41.