The razor-thin margins in Arizona’s statehouse make it a prime target for Democrats hoping to turn the state blue in November’s midterm elections.
Republicans control Arizona’s Senate with a 16-14 advantage and hold the House by a 31-29 margin. In a year with highly-competitive races for governor and U.S. Senate in the state, Democrats sense an opportunity flip the script in a state that has been under Republican control for nearly a decade-and-a-half.
“In a crucial election year, flipping just one seat in the Senate would end unchecked right wing control of the legislature and put 11 electoral votes out of reach from any attempts to steal the 2024 presidential election,” the States Project, an outside group that spends money for Democrats in state-level races, says of Arizona.
Election issues are front and center for many state-level Democrats after the 2020 presidential election. Abortion is also a key issue in the state, as the Supreme Court decision to repeal Roe v Wade gave states far more discretion on the issue. GOP Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation this year that allows abortion in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, while a more than 100-year-old law banning abortion is stuck in the courts.
However, if Democrats manage to take control of the state, something within the realm of possibility, they might be able to repeal all abortion limits.
A Fox News Poll last month showed Democrat gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs leading Republican Kari Lake among registered voters.
“I will never stop fighting for our reproductive rights, while Kari Lake will uphold Arizona’s draconian abortion ban that will endanger women and imprison their doctors,” Hobbs said in a recent press release.
Despite how close the legislature currently is, Republicans are confident in their ability to hold Arizona. Republicans point to disorganization among their Democratic opponents, a national political environment that is tougher for Democrats, and a more favorable map for Republicans after redistricting.
Still, Arizona is one of several states that could see dramatic policy swings depending on the outcome of the midterms. University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato told Fox News Digital that election rules and abortion are two of the biggest issues at the state level.
Sabato said the Supreme Court case on abortion, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, “underlined the critical and growing importance of state legislatures.” He also said Republicans have a chance to extend their control in statehouses this year.
“Holding their own would be enough for the GOP,” Sabato said. “Democrats need to start evening things up, but this is a tough year for them to start.”
The GOP group tasked with chalking up wins for the part at the state level is the Republican State Leadership Committee (RLSC), and it also sees a chance to advance conservative policies in this election.
“The stakes for state legislative elections in 2022 could not be higher for working families worried about their economic and physical security as a result of Joe Biden’s failed policies, which have been mimicked by his state Democrat allies,” RSLC communications director Andrew Romeo told Fox News Digital.
“Our number one priority this year is to defend our razor-thin Republican majorities because they are the last line of defense against Democrats importing the dangerous Biden agenda to every corner of the country,” Romeo added. “We are also excited about the multiple opportunities we have to break Democrat trifectas and put a stop to the radical tax hikes and soft-on-crime policies.”
Outside of Arizona, the RSLC includes Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota Senate and New Hampshire as its top defensive targets this cycle. Offensively, the group says Republicans have a chance to flip chambers in Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the Minnesota houses.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee did not respond to a request for comment for this story. However, its website, “RepublicanInsurrectionists.com,” highlights what appears to be its main issues – voting rights and elections. It also highlights the states that are its top priority, including Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada.
In Michigan, Republicans could target tax cuts if they manage to defend their majority and get some help from the top of the ballot.
Michigan has a Democratic governor who is in a competitive re-election race with a GOP senate and a closely divided state House of Representatives. Republicans moved major tax cut legislation in 2022, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed it. If the GOP keeps control, Republicans may be able to pass their tax bill. Michigan also saw controversy over its 2020 presidential election.
Minnesota’s legislature is split with a GOP Senate and a Democratic House. If Democrats manage to take the Senate, it may be easier for them to pass tax increases they have pushed for in recent years – including a $1.2 billion proposal from 2019, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
However, if the GOP grabs the House, Republicans could try to restrict abortion by placing a constitutional amendment in front of voters – without say from the state’s Democratic governor.