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Democrats Set to Return with Slim Legislative Supermajority

September 19, 2013
If all goes as expected Democrats will enter the remaining half of the 2013–14 session with solid supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature.
The process has begun to fill three legislative seats, two Assembly and one Senate, vacated earlier in the year. Senate Democrats currently hold the lowest number of seats needed to establish a supermajority (27) while Assembly Democrats hold 53 seats and are just one seat shy of the two-thirds vote threshold (54).
Achieving and maintaining the coveted legislative supermajority has been a longtime priority for Democrats. This vote threshold provides the dominate party, at least in theory, the power to pass urgency measures, approve tax levies, place proposals on the state ballot and override gubernatorial vetoes. Democrats captured supermajorities during the 2012 election cycle but have been unable to consistently maintain it due to several vacancies, some expected and some unexpected, this year.
All three special elections scheduled this month are for vacant seats in heavy Democratic Southern California legislative districts. This week special elections were held in Senate District (SD) 26 and Assembly District (AD) 45 with a third set for Sept. 24 in AD 52. The special elections in SD 26 and AD 45 are primary elections while the AD 52 election is a run-off to determine the final winner. As in regularly scheduled elections, should no one candidate garner over 50 percent of the vote during a primary election, a run-off general is triggered between the two top vote receiving candidates.
For more information regarding the special election districts and candidates, please see the Secretary of State’s election website.
According to the latest Secretary of State election results, Assembly Member Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) is the clear winner in SD 26 with a vote margin of 80.6 percent to her opponents 19.4 percent. A general run-off election will not be necessary given these results. In the crowded AD 45 election, it appears as though Democratic candidate Matt Dababneh, with the highest vote percentage of 24.6 percent, will face a general run-off against Republican candidate Susan Shelley, she currently has 21.4 percent of the vote.  
Absent any unexpected Republican upsets it’s anticipated that all three races will yield Democratic victors. Assembly Member Mitchell’s recent election to SD 26 has now resulted in an open Assembly seat. Even with this vacancy Assembly Democrats will retain the 54 votes needed to achieve a supermajority. Mitchell’s ascension to the Senate will further secure the Senate Democratic supermajority with 28 votes.  
It remains to be seen how legislative Democrats will choose to use their more-solidified two-house supermajorities. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to run for re-election in 2014 and discussions will focus on what to place on the ballot. For Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) next year also represents their final runs as the state’s top legislative leaders. Followers of Capitol politics can expect to see an increased push for their preferred legislative priorities during the remaining half of session.

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