While we’ve been focused on drug pricing in Washington, D.C. and climate change on the global stage, several states held elections on Tuesday, November 2. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) VP of State Government Affairs Patrick Plues told Bio.News what happened and what it means for biotechnology.
In Virginia’s closely watched election, Republicans flipped the Governor’s mansion and the House of Delegates.
Virginia Governor’s Race: Glen Youngkin (R) is the new Governor-elect of Virginia after beating Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe by more than 79,000 votes. Northern Virginian Youngkin was CEO of private equity firm The Carlyle Group; McAuliffe was Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair before serving as Governor of Virginia from 2014-2018. (McAuliffe was BIO’s Governor of the Year in 2016; despite that, part of his 2021 campaign platform included concepts on drug pricing BIO strongly opposes, such as the establishment of a prescription drug price review board in Virginia.)
Given the relative newness of Glen Youngkin’s political career, not much is known regarding his position on issues important to the biotech sector.
Virginia General Assembly: Democrats lost control of the Virginia House of Delegates with Republicans flipping seven seats. The Virginia Senate was not up for election this cycle.
What it means: We were anticipating several onerous drug pricing bills in Virginia next year, including legislation to establish a prescription drug price review board. With Republicans in control of the House and Governor’s Mansion, we believe it unlikely that those bills will materialize.
While Democrats retained control of the Governor’s mansion and state legislature, Republicans had an unexpectedly strong showing in key races.
New Jersey Governor’s Race: Gov. Phil Murphy (D)—BIO’s Governor of the Year in 2019—eked out a slim victory over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli (chit-a-reli). Even so, the strong showing by Ciattarelli is a complete surprise to many in New Jersey.
New Jersey Legislature: Republicans made gains in both the New Jersey House and Senate. While the Democrats still retain control of the legislature, Republicans are on track to pick up four seats in the Senate and eight seats in the General Assembly. More shocking, the long-time and very powerful Senate President Steve Sweeney could lose his seat to Edward Durr, a conservative truck driver who reported spending just $153 on his campaign; as of this writing, the race is still too close to call.
Maine Ballot Measure
Maine voted to approve a “Right to Food” constitutional amendment by a 61% to 39% margin. The amendment grants farmers the ability to trade seeds. From BIO’s perspective, granting license to save and exchange seeds is a direct attack on intellectual property rights.
The big picture: Tuesday was important, but next year will be very significant with 36 gubernatorial elections, 30 attorney general elections, and 88 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers holding elections.