Michigan Democrats Regain Control of State House in Special Elections

Michigan Democrats regain control of state House, cementing trifecta control and positioning them to advance policy agenda on issues like gun laws, hate crimes, and school safety.

Bijay Laxmi
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Michigan Democrats Regain Control of State  House in Special Elections

Michigan Democrats Regain Control of State House in Special Elections

Michigan Democrats have regained control of the state House of Representatives after winning two special elections on Tuesday. The victories of Mai Xiong in the 13th District and Peter Herzberg in the 25th District give Democrats a 56-54 majority in the chamber, restoring their party's full control of state government for the first time in 40 years.

The House had been tied 54-54 between Democrats and Republicans since November 2022, when two Democratic representatives vacated their seats after being elected as mayors. The special elections were held in heavily Democratic districts, with Xiong defeating Republican Ronald Singer and Herzberg beating Republican Josh Powell.

Why this matters: The Democratic wins cement the party's trifecta control of Michigan's governorship and both legislative chambers. This puts Democrats in a stronger position to advance their policy agenda, including overhauling the state's gun laws, expanding hate crime protections, and enacting school safety measures.

Democrats had cast the races as a referendum on their trifecta control of state government, which they have used to enact laws protecting abortion rights, boosting unions, and expanding LGBTQ protections. The victories were seen as positive news for Democrats heading into the 2024 presidential election, though some Michigan Democrats urged caution in connecting the results to the presidential race, noting that the state is a battleground.

With the Democratic majority restored, lawmakers are expected to focus on passing a state budget with a July 1 deadline. Governor Gretchen Whitmer's $81 billion budget proposal includes funding for free community college and preschool. Democrats are also considering expanding the state's hate crime law and enacting a school safety package in the wake of the 2021 Oxford High School shooting.

However, lawmakers will be working against the clock, as they are set to take a summer break at the end of June and representatives will soon begin campaigning in their districts for the November elections. All House seats will be up for reelection this fall, meaning Democrats' control of the chamber is temporary.

The special election victories further cement the strength the abortion issue has provided Democrats in legislative races since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. "These Democratic victories make it clear that voters are rejecting the MAGA Republican agenda and want leaders who are focused on the issues that matter most to working families, like protecting abortion access and lowering costs," said Jessica Post, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, in a statement.

Key Takeaways

  • Michigan Democrats regain control of state House, 56-54 majority.
  • Victories in special elections seen as referendum on Dem trifecta.
  • Dems aim to advance agenda on gun laws, hate crimes, school safety.
  • Dem control temporary as all House seats up for reelection in Nov.
  • Abortion issue bolsters Dems in legislative races post-Roe v. Wade.