GOP takes control in West Virginia for the first time in 80 years, makes strong gains in Arkansas, Florida
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ELECTION CENTRAL (CFP) — Republicans made gains in statehouses across the South in the November 4 midterm election, taking complete control in West Virginia and padding their numbers in Arkansas and Florida.
However, Democrats managed to keep their majority in the Kentucky House, which could doom plans by Republican U.S Senator Rand Paul to run for both the White House and his Senate seat in 2016.
Of the 21 legislative chambers up for election, the GOP picked up seats in 15, while five others saw no change. The only place Democrats made a gain was in North Carolina, where they added a net of three seats in the House. However, Democrats also lost three seats in the Senate.
The biggest shift came in West Virginia, where despite having a 350,000-person advantage over Republicans in voter registration, Democrats hemorrhaged seats.
In the House, the GOP gained a net 17 seats and now has a 64-36 advantage. In the Senate, Republicans gained seven seats to create a tie, then took control when a Democrat switched parties after the election.
Republicans have not controlled the Mountaineer State’s legislature since 1931.
In Arkansas, where the GOP had a slender one-vote majority in the House, Republicans gained a net of seven seats. They also added three Senate seats, giving them a two-thirds majority for the first time.
In Florida, where Governor Rick Scott narrowly won re-election, Republicans down the ballot did better, gaining a net of eight seats to capture an 82-37 majority over Democrats.
The GOP also picked up six House seats in Alabama, and in the Oklahoma Senate, Democrats lost four seats, leaving them with just eight senators in the 48-member chamber.
Republicans also made small gains in Texas, Tennessee and Georgia.
Kentucky law currently prohibits Paul from running for re-election to the Senate while also pursuing the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. With Democrats in charge of the House for the next two years, that law is not likely to be changed.
Paul has said he thinks that Kentucky law is unconstitutional.