Democrats face more work to hold on to gains in state Legislature
California state Senate Democrats woke up Wednesday confident they had won a supermajority of at least 28 seats, but with two of their members having won election to Congress, they acknowledged they will have to win special elections to fill those seats to hold on to the two-thirds margin.
Democrats needed 27 seats to have a supermajority in the state Senate and had at least 28 if preliminary results hold up.
But Sens. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) and Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) were the winners in preliminary results of 35th and 51st Congressional District races respectively, so special elections will have to be held to fill their seats.
Democratic strategist Jason Kinney said both Senate districts are heavily Democratic so they expect to restore the supermajority early next year, possibly before the Senate has to vote on a budget. "These two districts that will be vacant at some point in the next few months both enjoy hugely significant Democratic registration advantages and we intend to move quickly to fill them," Kinney said.
Voter registration in the new district that Negrete McLeod will vacate is 48% Democratic and 26% Republican while the one Vargas will leave is 47% Democratic and 24% Republican. That will likely complicate things for the Assembly Democrats, who say they too will have a supermajority if the preliminary results from Tuesday’s election hold up. (Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby is down 1,004 votes in the preliminary results but is hoping uncounted ballots can turn the tide).
If Assembly Democrats win the special election for the Senate seats, that would create new vacancies in the lower house that would have to be filled. Adding to the complications, state Sen. Curren Price Jr. (D-Los Angeles) plans to run for the Los Angeles City Council next year. If he wins, that would create another vacancy that Democrats would have to win to hold on to the supermajority.
The last time one party had a supermajority in both houses was 1933, when Republicans were in control. The last time Democrats held a two-thirds majority in both houses was 1883. In both instances a Governor of the same party was holding office.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / AP