WASHINGTON -- The coming elections are likely to produce a large new crop of state legislators as well as freshman members of Congress, according to the National Council of State Legislatures, which is predicting a state turnover as high as 35%.
The state legislatures are guaranteed a 20% turnover, or 1,500 new members, because of retiring incumbents, the council said, Eighty-six of those incumbents are running for the U.S. House of Representatives, which could have as many as 130 new members next year out of 435, experts project.
The big change in membership, both at the national and state levels, is attributed largely to this year's legislative redistricting. The last redistricting in 1982, according to the council, produced a 32% turnover in the statehouses. Based on that data, the council is projecting a 30% to 35% change in membership this year.
California and some other states are ahead of the forecasted national average, with nearly 40% new membership guaranteed as a result of retirements and ousters in the primary elections. In the California Assembly, 36% of incumbents will not return, while four out of 10 senate incumbents are leaving in Alaska, Kansas, Maine, and Vermont.
A minimum one-third turnover will occur in the lower houses of Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, the council said.
The new faces won't be only among the rank and file, either, the council said. The leadership of the statehouses will lose 48 familiar faces as a result of the spate of retirements.
That includes 13 house speakers, six house majority leaders, seven house minority leaders, 12 senate presidents, seven senate majority leaders, and three senate minority leaders. Some of the departing leaders are running for Congress, the council said.
It's unclear which party will gain the most from the changeover, the council said. Democrats control both chambers in 29 states, while Republicans control both chambers in six. Fourteen states have split control, while Nebraska's legislature is both nonpartisan and unicameral.
Of 7,424 state seats, 6,255 are up for grabs next month. Democrats currently hold 4,419 seats, Republicans 2,966 seats, and independents 11 seats, the council said.