MEMO: Democrats are flipping some of the reddest seats

TO:                 Interested Parties  

FROM:           Amanda Brown Lierman, DNC National Political and Organizing Director

DATE:            February 22, 2017

RE:                 Democrats are flipping some of the reddest seats


There’s one major trend that we saw in 2017 that we continue to see in 2018: Democrats are winning.


As Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said recently about Democrats, “They’re winning elections in places where they shouldn’t be. […] Make no mistake: The Democrats are unified.”


He is right.


In Tom Perez’s first year as chair, Democrats have flipped 37 legislative seats from red to blue. Some of these 37 seats are in deep red areas that Trump won by double digits. Just yesterday, Democrats flipped a deep red seat in Kentucky that Trump won with 72% of the vote in 2016.  


This isn’t just a trend – it’s a movement. We have partnered with the state parties, committees, national and local partners, and the community leaders and activists. We are making strategic investments in order to be competitive in every ZIP code, every year and in every election – from the school board to the Oval Office. 


Over the last year Democrats have been focused on one mission: winning elections up and down the ballot. In 2017, Democrats flipped 33 state legislative seats: including 15 in the Virginia House of Delegates; won two governor’s seats; and even won a Senate seat in Alabama that no one believed we could pull off. And in just the first two months of 2018, Democrats flipped legislative seats in Wisconsin, Missouri, Florida, and Kentucky.




New Hampshire: Edith DesMarais (HD-06): DesMarais is the first Democrat to hold the seat in the district's history and won by 56 votes. Trump won this district by seven points.


New York: Christine Pellegrino (SA-09): Trump won this district by 23 points. Pellegrino is a mother and has been an elementary school teacher for the last 25 years and ran a campaign on strengthening Albany’s education system.  


New Jersey: Vin Gopal (SD-11): Gopal, who is the first Indian-American elected to the New Jersey state Senate, defeated a Republican who had been in office for 11 years.


Oklahoma: Michael Brooks (SD-44) and Karen Gaddis (HD-75): In July, Brooks and Gaddis won in districts that Trump won by double digits.


Florida: Annette Taddeo (SD-40): Taddeo defeated her opponent by nearly 4 points in a district almost evenly divided between registered Republicans, Democrats and Independents.


Virginia: Danica Roem (HD-13), Elizabeth Guzman (HD-31), Kathy Tran (HD-42) Hala Ayala (HD-51): Roem is the first openly transgender state legislature in history, Guzman and Ayala are the first Latina delegates in Virginia's history and Tran is the first AAPI woman elected to House of Delegates and first Vietnamese American elected at any level in Virginia.


Georgia:  Jonathan Wallace (HD-119), Deborah Gonzalez (HD-117), Jen Jordan (SD-06): Democrats picked up three Republican-held seats in Georgia last year and the election of Jordan to the state Senate ended the two-thirds Republican supermajority.  


Washington: Manka Dhingra (SD-45): Democrats elected Dhingra in a special election, which successfully flipped control of the Washington state Senate.


These historic legislative flips are proof that Democrats have the momentum they need to flip even more seats and take back statehouses across the country.



In just the first two months of 2018, Democrats have made gains in the Wisconsin state Senate, held a Minnesota state Senate seat in a district Trump won, and flipped seats in the Missouri, Florida, and Kentucky state Houses. 



In January, Democrats elected Patty Schachtner to the Wisconsin state Senate. This is a district that Republicans have held for nearly two decades, Trump won in 2016 by 17 points and Mitt Romney won the district in 2012. Even anti-labor and anti-worker Governor Scott Walker said this flip was a “wake up call” for Republicans in Wisconsin.



In early February, Democrat Mike Revis flipped the Jefferson County House seat from red to blue, defeating his Republicans opponent by 3 points. What should have been a safe seat for Republicans to hold, as Trump won this district by 28 points, served as a referendum on their harmful agenda which prioritizes the wealthiest at the expense of hardworking families.  



Last week, Margaret Good won House District 72 defeating James Buchanan – the son of Congressman Vern Buchanan who represents the area – in a special election. In a massive blow to Florida Republicans, Good defeated Buchanan by seven points, claiming a larger victory than even Donald Trump, who won the district by  5 points. 



This week, Kentuckians elected Linda Belcher, who flipped yet another Republican-held seat from red to blue in a district that Trump won with 72% of the vote in 2016. Belcher defeated her Republican opponent with over 68% of the vote.




State legislators and governors are on the frontlines when it comes to the redrawing of congressional maps. In order to stop Republican gerrymandering, Democrats must do what Republicans have done for years and what we have focused on this past year: elect Democrats to state legislatures across the country and flipping chambers from red to blue.


Nearly 800 state legislators will be elected this year who will be responsible for drawing congressional maps in 2021. We are 12 seats away from flipping 6 chambers.


·         1: seat away from flipping Colorado, Maine, Minnesota state Senates

·         1: seat away from breaking the supermajority in the Pennsylvania Senate

·         2: seats needed to break the supermajority in the Missouri Senate

·         3: seats away from flipping the Arizona, New Hampshire and Wisconsin state Senates   


Republican-controlled state legislatures have been key to blocking initiatives that would help working families, such as expanding Medicaid, passing robust background checks, and increasing women’s access to reproductive health services while the wealthiest in the state receive a tax cut. In some states, Republicans have drawn such unfair and partisan congressional maps that the maps were challenged by the courts and actually thrown out. 


State legislatures are also on the frontlines of fighting back against the Trump-Pence agenda which is dividing communities, tearing apart families and making it more difficult for families to obtain a good-paying job while providing for their children.


The road ahead won’t be an easy one, but if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last few months, it’s that democrats can win everywhere.