California Democrats emerge more powerful after election
Democrats, already the dominant political force in California, are only getting more powerful in the Golden State.
From ballot measures to state legislative races, voting results available Wednesday morning showed the balance of power in the Capitol skewing more than ever in Democrats' favor, sometimes in unexpected ways.
For starters, they are poised to gain a two-thirds majority in both houses of the California Legislature. While such a supermajority was always within reach in the Senate, it was a much longer shot in the Assembly.
“It’s a mandate to govern in the interest of the people of the state,” Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D–Los Angeles) said. “It means we’ve got to be very serious about focusing on the crucial issues of the state like job creation.”
If the preliminary results hold, it would be the first time since 1933 that one party has had a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature. It would also rob Republicans of their one trump card in Sacramento, their ability to block tax increases, which require a two-thirds vote.
Republicans have already been cut out of the budget process, since new rules approved by voters in 2010 allow lawmakers to approve spending plans with a simple majority vote.
Democratic leaders say raising taxes is not on the agenda, especially since Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike plan was approved by voters, according to the Associated Press. Proposition 30 took an early lead on election day and the margin only widened as more results came in overnight.
Poll results showed support for the tax increases on sales and high earners' incomes dipping last month, but the campaign appeared to swing in Brown's favor as election day approached.
In addition, unions and their allies defeated Proposition 32, which would have curbed their political influence. The ballot measure, which the Associated Press said early Wednesday morning was headed for failure, would have prevented unions from using paycheck deductions for political purposes -- a major source of money for Democratic candidates and causes.
The road ahead doesn't appear to get any easier for Republicans in California. New statistics show that less than 30% of the state's voters are registered Republicans, which the AP said was the lowest level for the party since recordkeeping began.
Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D–Los Angeles), right, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D–Sacramento) discuss the state budget at the Capitol in June. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press