Republicans Also Enjoy Electoral Success at State Level

Although Donald Trump’s election as the nation’s 45th president dominates the headlines, the Republican Party enjoyed similar successes in many states.  

Governors

Of the 12 gubernatorial elections on Tuesday, Republicans won three open seat races in states currently controlled by Democrat governors: Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat of their own in North Carolina, where Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) leads Gov. Pat McCrory (R) by nearly 5,000 votes, but tens of thousands of provisional ballots have yet to be counted. As a result, Republican governors will soon lead at least 33 states—marking a net gain of two positions and matching their highest total since 1922. 

State Legislatures

Republicans have enjoyed considerable state-level legislative electoral success in recent years, and that trend continued this year. Before Tuesday, Republicans controlled 67 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers in the country—excluding Nebraska, which has a unicameral and nonpartisan legislature. They also held majorities in both chambers in 30 states and maintained more individual seats than they have since 1920.

This week, Republicans took control of three legislative chambers: the Iowa Senate, the Kentucky House and the Minnesota Senate. Two chambers—the Connecticut Senate and Delaware Senate—are now tied after previous Democrat control. Democrats had some success as well and picked up majorities in three chambers: the New Mexico House and the Nevada Senate and Assembly. 

Insurance Commissioners

This year’s election could affect the insurance marketplace and regulatory environment in numerous states, especially in jurisdictions where voters select their insurance commissioners. Five of the 11 elected insurance commissioner positions were on the ballot this week:

  • Delaware: New Castle County Sheriff Trinidad Navarro (D) defeated his Republican challenger 59% to 41%. Navarro defeated two-term incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart in the primary held in September.
  • Montana: In the race to succeed the term-limited commissioner, State Senate Majority Leader Matt Rosendale (R) defeated Jesse Laslovich (D) by a surprising margin of 54% to 46%. The current two-term insurance commissioner is Monica Lindeen, who served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2015 and lost her bid to become Montana’s Secretary of State. 
  • North Carolina: In a somewhat surprising outcome, Mike Causey (R) defeated two-term incumbent insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin (D), 50.3% to 49.7%. Causey is a former insurance agent who unsuccessfully sought the post on four previous occasions.
  • North Dakota: In an open seat election, John Godfread (R) prevailed with more than 64% of the vote. He will soon replace former NAIC President Adam Hamm, who was commissioner for more than nine years and currently serves as chairman of the NAIC’s Cybersecurity Task Force. 
  • Washington: The lone Democrat to win an insurance commissioner election this year was Mike Kreidler, who won a fifth four-year term with more than 59% of the vote. 

Ballot Measures

This year, voters also considered dozens of ballot measures addressing such issues as gun rights, the minimum wage, the death penalty and the legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. A Colorado ballot measure had arguably the most insurance-specific impact: a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution which would have replaced the health insurance marketplace with a government-operated single payer system called ColoradoCare. The Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Colorado, the Big “I” affiliate in Colorado, opposed the controversial initiative, which was ultimately rejected by a vote of 80% to 20%. 

Wes Bissett is Big “I” outside senior counsel of government affairs.