Republicans have extended their grip on the state legislature, adding to already super majorities in both chambers.
The GOP had 110 seats in the House at the start of Tuesday’s election and 24 in the Senate. Unofficial results have the party increasing those tallies to 117 and 25 respectively, with one House race too close to call. Majorities of 109 and 23 are enough to overturn governors’ vetoes.
The wins puts the party in a position to achieve any policy goals its wants to, if its members can agree among themselves, according to University of Missouri Political Science Professor Peverill Squire.
“We saw in the previous General Assembly session that the governor was able to peel off some Republicans to sustain his important vetoes,” says Squire. “This last time around Republicans hung together, but that’s tough to do. It’s tough to get a lot of agreement among a lot of people how have their own ideas about what the party should do.”
Squire says the wins also allow Republicans to begin positioning for 2016.
“The governorship will be up for election. We’ll have a U.S. Senate race up for election, and so they have the opportunity, if they can agree on policies, to try to position themselves in a way that they think will attract voters,” says Squire. “The downside for them, of course, is sometimes when one party has dominance in the legislature they tend to overreach, and they might in effect make it more difficult for themselves to win in 2016.”
Republicans say the victories are evidence that Missourians agree with their positions. Squire says that is to be expected.
“I’m not sure this campaign has actually been around any set of issues or policies, so we’ll see what they actually seek to do if they have the supermajority again,” says Squire. “It’s not clear they got a lot of what they wanted done this last session. We’ll see what they add to the agenda this time around.”
The election results also mean Governor Jay Nixon (D) finds himself having to deal with Republican supermajorities in his final two years as governor.
Considering what that might mean for Nixon’s political future, Squire says Nixon still has a lot of power, and can still make moves that could favor him.
“If he issues vetoes, those are important gestures. He can make his policy statements through issuing those vetoes. Even if they get overridden it puts him on the record and his opponents on the record on specific policies.”
Nixon can not run again for governor.