In Blue California, Democrats On Verge Of Regaining Supermajorities

Jerry Brown (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

California continues to cement its place as a national outlier, with Hillary Clinton clobbering Donald Trump by nearly 30 points as the last ballots are counted. Now, California Democrats looked to have gained a supermajority in the state legislature as well.

It appeared in the days following the election that Democrats had picked up enough seats in the California State Assembly regain the two-thirds supermajority that they had lost in 2014, but that Republicans had held on to enough seats to block a supermajority for Democrats in the State Senate.

However in the count of late absentee and provisional ballots in the 33rd State Senate District, political newcomer Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) has now pulled 1,529 votes ahead of Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar). More votes remain to be counted, but it appears likely that Newman will prevail, giving Democrats back their super-majority in the Capitol’s upper chamber as well. Votes continue to be counted in this tri-county district, which sits where Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties come together.

For the past eight years, the 33rd Senate District seat has been held by former Senate Republican leader Bob Huff. Republican voter registration in the district significantly eroded during Huff’s time in office.

A supermajority is significant because under the state constitution it takes a two-thirds vote of both legislative chambers to raise taxes without a vote of the people, to pass bills with “urgency” (to go into effect immediately), and to place measures on the ballot. It also takes a two-thirds vote to override a gubernatorial veto — less relevant with Democrat Jerry Brown serving as Governor.

California is one of just four states where Democrats have control of the governorship and both state legislative chambers – with Republicans holding the troika of power in a record 33 states. The remaining 13 states have split governance.

With more votes having been counted it would appear that Proposition 53, a measure that would have required voter approval of large-scale state borrowing for infrastructure projects, was narrowly defeated. Also Proposition 66, a measure to make it easier to implement California’s death penalty, has passed (voters rejected Proposition 62, which would have repealed the death penalty).

Over a million ballots remain to be counted in counties around California. It would appear that the turnout will be just below 75% of registered voters, which is higher than the 2012 Presidential election, but lower than 2008.


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