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The 2022 Midterm Elections

After a contentious election cycle, the 2022 midterms determined the political landscape for the next two years. Results of federal, state, and local legislator races rocked the nation as voters largely bucked historical trends of favoring the White House’s opposing party, and instead in many instances favored Democratic candidates.

U.S. House of Representatives
All 435 U.S. House seats were up for reelection. Republicans will control the House by a narrow majority of 213-222.

On January 3, 2023, a new congress will take effect and party leadership elections will be held. House Republicans nominated Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) by a vote of 188 – 31 to serve as Speaker, however, McCarthy still needs 218 votes of the full House to be elected Speaker. The Democratic Caucus selected Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) as their next Minority Leader, making him the first African American leader in either chamber. House Republicans are already discussing overturning many legislative milestones that address climate impacts, including eliminating the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. ASLA and grassroots landscape architects are advocating for Congress to maintain this committee, as it has been an invaluable resource in shaping policies to address the climate crisis.

U.S. Senate
Democrats will retain Senate control with a razor-thin majority of 51-49. The Georgia senate race headed to a runoff election on December 6, 2022, which ultimately favored Democrat Raphael Warnock.

In the new Congress, Chuck Schumer (NY) will remain Senate Majority Leader and Mitch McConnell (KY) will remain Minority Leader as determined after a secret-ballot leadership election vote of 37-10-1. With such a narrow margin in the Senate and a Republican-controlled House, Schumer and his caucus will likely spend much of its efforts fending off attempts to roll back climate gains and other previous achievements and will continue to shape the federal judiciary if vacancies are to arise.

More than half of the country’s gubernatorial seats were up for grabs in the 2022 midterm elections as 36 governors were on the ballot. Prior to the election, Democrats held 16 seats and Republicans 20. A total of 28 incumbent governors sought reelection, 13 being Democrats and 15 Republicans. Eight governors—three Democrats and five Republicans—did not seek reelection in 2022 and all but one (MA) was prevented from running due to term limits. Democrats flipped three previously held Republican seats (AZ, MA, MD) while Republicans took control of the one previous Democratic seat (NV). There will be 24 Democratic governors and 26 Republican governors come 2023.

State Legislatures
In a typical year, about 12 chambers will flip in party control. In 2022, however, only four Republican-held chambers flipped Democratic – Michigan House, Michigan Senate, Minnesota House, and Pennsylvania House. The nationwide ratio now stands at 57 Republican chambers and 40 Democratic chambers.

The elections have also resulted in a decline in the number of states with a divided government, down from 12 to now 10. Specifically, Republicans now control 22 states and Democrats 17, with Alaska results not yet official but trending Republican. Further, at least half of the states will have a super-majority favoring one party, diminishing executive veto power and strengthening legislative powers. The composition of state legislatures and the separation of powers may become even more important in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Moore v. Harper and the “independent state legislature theory.”

Landscape Architecture Electoral & State Ballot Measures Successes
For landscape architects, local and state votes proved once again to be significant. Joy Lyndes, FASLA, will return to the Encinitas City Council on a four-year term. Councilwoman Lyndes will continue to advance her priorities of maintaining a strong local character and sense of place, spurring economic development, and protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

In Rhode Island, voters approved a measure issuing $50 million in green economy bonds, for environmental and recreational projects. The investment covers nine different projects, including $16 million for municipal-level stormwater management and $3 million for water quality projects. Additionally, the measure allocates $5 million to open space acquisition, $4 million to brownfield remediation, $3 million to land management and conservation, and $2 million to park refurbishments.

In New York, voters approved the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which authorizes $4.2 billion in bonds to fund environmental protection, natural restoration, resiliency, and clean energy projects. This investment covers $1.1 billion for flood management, $650 million for open space conservation and restoration, and $650 for water quality improvements.

Overall, the 2022 midterms set historic records for voter turnout, individual campaign expenses, and diversity of incoming leaders, including the first Generation Z member of Congress and in some states the first openly LGBT, black, or woman governor. ASLA’s Government Affairs team looks forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of policies that advance the landscape architecture profession including matters concerning climate, environmental justice, licensure, and more. ASLA encourages all members to be engaged and civically involved at all levels of government.

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