The 2011 state elections are over.
We have won some major victories. There are also some major losses. Moving forward, it is clear now that the South has emerged as the next major battlefield over immigration reform.
In Arizona, Senator Russell Pearce was defeated by Jerry Lewis in a special recall election. Democrats turned out with Hispanic activists to punish Pearce for his support of SB 1070. Next year, Lewis will have to defend that seat in the Republican primary.
In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear defeated State Senator David Williams to win reelection.
In West Virginia, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin defeated Republican Bill Maloney in the West Virginia governor race in October.
In Iowa, Democrat Liz Mathis defeated Republican Cindy Golding in a special election for the Iowa Senate. Mathis replaces a Democra who accepted a state job from Gov. Terry Brandstand.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal won a landslide victory in an open primary in October. Louisiana state legislative elections are scheduled for November 19th.
In Mississippi, Lieutenant Governor Phil Byrant who has been a strong supporter of Arizona-style immigration reform crushed the Negroid-American Johnny Dupree. The Mississippi House has fallen to Republicans.
After 15 years of debating the issue, Mississippi voters have approved a strong Voter ID law.
In Virginia, Republicans captured 6 to 9 seats in the Virginia House, defeated the Minority Leader Ward Armstrong in the Virginia House, and picked up the 2 seats needed to win control of the Virginia Senate
The SPLC and Imagine2050 will undoubtedly come out of the gate boasting about the defeat of Russell Pearce (who will be back next year), but the crashing sound in the Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi state legislatures shows that the momentum of the immigration reform movement has already shifted from Arizona to the South.
Russell Pearce lost the recall election, but Mississippi approved a strong Voter ID law, elected a new governor in the mold of Jan Brewer, and Republicans captured the Mississippi House, which all but guarantees that Mississippi will pass an Arizona-style immigration law and a stronger E-Verify law in January.
There is no telling what the Republican-controlled state legislatures in Louisiana and Virginia will pass on the subject of immigration next year. The Virginia House passed 10 immigration bills last year that were killed by Democrats in the Virginia Senate.
Immigration reform is also coming back in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Florida. It should be interesting to see what happens in these states now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Arizona’s E-Verify system is constitutional.
Russell Pearce has gone down, but the movement will press on in Dixie. Next year, we will settle scores with Jerry Lewis. If anyone asks what happened to Russell Pearce in Arizona, ask them what happened to Ward Armstrong in Virginia.