Democrats’ eyes on state Senate – latimes.com
Democrats were within striking distance of a supermajority in the state Senate late Tuesday, and were drawing near in the Assembly as well, moving the party closer to unilateral power to raise taxes.
The potential gains, a result of sweeping changes in California’s political system, captivated the Capitol on a night in which there also were unprecedented battles within the state’s congressional delegation.
If the Democrats achieve a supermajority, as party leaders believed likely, it would mark the first time either party has captured two-thirds of the seats in the Senate or Assembly in 34 years. It takes a two-thirds vote in each house to approve tax increases, which would have to be signed by the governor. Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) claimed early Wednesday to have achieved a supermajority in his chamber.
The election marked the first statewide test of a new set of election rules, coupled with adoption of new district lines, aimed at reducing partisan gridlock in Washington and Sacramento. The redistricting made many races more competitive and changes in state law pitted the top vote-getters in the June primary against each other, regardless of party.
Democratic leaders said a supermajority would give them greater leeway to solve the state’s economic problems. “With a working two-thirds majority, the Senate can move California forward without running headlong into a recalcitrant minority party who place ideology above balanced solutions that spur job growth,” said Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
Republicans warned that Californians could be eliminating some of the leverage GOP lawmakers have used to oppose tax increases or extract spending reductions and other concessions in exchange for needed votes to raise taxes. “The power would be given to the very same people who have fought for higher sales taxes, income taxes, gas taxes, soda taxes, diaper taxes, and finding new ways to let convicted criminals out of jail early,” said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar.
One key was the 17th Senate District, where Democratic Assemblyman William Monning of Carmel was leading Republican school board member Larry Beaman in early returns. Democrats also hoped to pick up one of three other competitive seats to reach the crucial number of 27.
In another critical battle, state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) was running behind Republican Todd Zink, a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County.