Partisan divide grows in US states, with mixed results

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Democrats have hit the political trifecta in New Jersey and Washington state, seizing complete control of the governor’s office and legislative chambers in the 2017 elections.

Time to let fly with a big liberal agenda? Maybe, but taking a few modest steps to the left is probably more realistic.

In a decade that has seen a resurgence of American political polarization, two-thirds of all state governments now will be fully controlled by either Democrats or Republicans. That rivals the predominant levels of single-party governance last seen in the post-World War II era.

Yet recent experience has shown that new Republican or Democratic majorities can still splinter among factions of moderates and hard-core ideologues. Even when a party bands together for bold initiatives, the results can be mixed.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, of Washington, already appears to be lowering partisan expectations as he prepares to work with a new Democratic-led Senate and House that will have majorities of just a few seats over Republicans.

“With very closely held margins like this, neither party controls the Legislature,” Inslee told The Associated Press in a phone interview while on a trade trip to Zurich, Switzerland. He added: “I’m hopeful more bipartisan votes will occur.”

New Jersey might be positioned for a somewhat more aggressive Democratic agenda.

Newly elected Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy will be paired with a legislature that is roughly two-thirds Democrats and had been at odds with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican forced out of office by term limits. The first bill the Senate president wants to send to Murphy would boost taxes on high-earners, something Christie vetoed five times. Murphy also has expressed support for legalizing recreational marijuana, which Christie also opposed.

Democrats will have full control in…

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