Dems plans to take state House in limbo - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Dems plans to take state House in limbo

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Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 10:12 pm | Updated: 10:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Democrats will have to wait to see if plans to take control of the Arizona House of Representatives from the Republicans will pan out as many of the races across the state were to close to call by late Tuesday.

Democrats were working to improve their numbers in the House, where they are outnumbered 33 to 27 by their Republican opponents.

It appeared Tuesday that those numbers could stay the same as a small majority of GOP candidates were leading their races heading deep into the night. Democrats did not expect to win control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim margin.

If control of the House does not switch, many Republicans across the state could take that as a minor victory in a year where many political experts predicted Republican candidates across the country would be swept out of office.

“For Republicans the status quo is good enough,” said GOP political consultant Jason Rose. “In a year like this, Republicans claim victory with the status quo.”

Democrats were hopeful they could take control of the House for the first time in more than 40 years. But to do that, the party needed a net gain of four seats.

Democrats targeted races in more than a dozen legislative districts throughout the state where they though they could unseat Republicans — including traditionally GOP-leaning areas of the East Valley. Democrats already had a strong foothold in Tempe-based District 17, where they sent two representatives and one senator to the capitol.

However, party officials hoped they could win races in Chandler, specifically in District 20 and 21 where they though they could knock out incumbent Rep. Warde Nichols and Sen. John Huppenthal. Two years ago, Huppenthal survived a tight race in which early returns showed he had lost. But in both races, the Republican candidates were leading late Tuesday.

Democrats were so confident about their chances that members sent out a press release on Monday announcing a slate of candidates that would be running for House leadership, which is currently under Republican control.

However, those candidates were unavailable for comment late Tuesday.

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