Democrats clinch supermajorities in state legislature, contrasting national election

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In stark contrast to Republicans’ sweep of the presidency and Congress on Nov. 8, California Democrats clinched two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature Monday night.

The Associated Press called Democrat Josh Newman’s win for state Senate District 29 over Republican Ling Ling Chang when provisional and absentee ballots gave Newman a lead of more than 2,400 votes.

With Newman’s election, Democrats will control 27 of the 40 state Senate seats. Democrats also control 55 of the 80 state Assembly seats, gaining three seats in this year’s election.

A supermajority gives Democrats the ability overturn a governor’s veto, pass tax laws and put constitutional amendments to the ballot — all without bipartisan support. Split between liberals and centrists, however, the Democratic party’s dominance in California is more symbolic than actionable.

“An overwhelming majority of Californians chose to have a Democrat represent them … that’s a testament to our accomplishments over the past few years,” said Kevin Liao, a spokesperson for Anthony Rendon, the Democratic Speaker of the state Assembly. “(But) the whole idea of this magic two-thirds barrier is a bit overplayed.”

Democratic state legislators last held a supermajority four years ago, but failed to pass their most liberal policies — including a measure that would allow voters to overturn California’s ban on affirmative action — because of divisions within the party.

Fernando Salazar, a campus junior and member of Cal Berkeley Democrats, said California’s Democratic supermajority would provide a liberal counterpoint to the conservative policies many incoming federal legislators have promised.

“California will be an antithesis of Trump’s America,” Salazar said. “The state itself is just a complete rejection of Donald Trump. The future of this state is really bright under Democratic governance.”

But some campus Republicans expressed concern that Democrats wouldn’t collaborate with Republican lawmakers.

David Craig, a campus sophomore and the treasurer of Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, said Democratic legislators in Sacramento might ignore Republican voters’ concerns, using their supermajority to bypass opposition. Just over a quarter of Californians who registered to vote in the Nov. 8 general election registered as Republicans.

“It’s kind of like two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner,” said Pieter Sittler, a campus sophomore and the internal vice president of BCR. “It could … be a tyranny of the majority, because the Democrats have absolutely no need to get bipartisan consensus on anything they want to pass.”

According to Liao, the supermajority could lead to clashes between the state legislature and Republican-controlled federal government.

Liao added that California Democrats are prepared to oppose President-elect Donald Trump’s administration on its proposed policies that would halt immigration, move funding away from public school and slash the Affordable Care Act.

“We don’t know what shape the Trump threat is going to take,” said Michael Soller, a spokesperson for the California Democratic Party. “We’re not waiting to see what’s going to happen — we’re taking action now.”

Contact Simon Greenhill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @simondgreenhill.

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  • M2000

    It is because of too many dead people voting and illegal immigrants.

  • ShadrachSmith

    So secession is an option. I think the rest of the country might let you go. You could call it La Raza.

  • Curtis Jones

    So what else is new. I will enjoy watching Kali choke on its Dem created puke. State bankruptcy coming soon to Kali.

  • Kurt VanderKoi
  • Mark Talmont

    There is no proposed policy that would “halt immigration”. They are talking about tighter regulation of legal immigration and the grotesquely-abused visa programs. A lot of you are going to have the pleasure of competing with B1s soon.

    (As an aside, some enterprising reporter should rustle up some of these proverbial job-generating geniuses we are told must take their wizardry Back Home because they can’t qualify for a visa, as it seems quite difficult to find real cases in the corporate media)

    With 1/3 of the population officially poor as qualifying for MediCal, the future of California is looking more and more like a Third World country with a narrowing class of very wealthy increasingly isolated from a growing class of increasingly poor. The “till next election” time horizon the urban liberals operate with is going to crash into the massive unfunded liabilities facing the state and local retirement systems. A single city in California (Fresno) has adequately funded it’s pensions; the state PERS weathered a bribery scandal mainly by way of the principals dying. The East Bay Express has a good article explaining what a tangled web public finance has become as increasingly desperate fund managers grasp for returns high enough to fund the pensions

    The problem is nationwide, note all of this is coincident with record debt and looming liabilities at the federal level. At current budget trends, retirement, health care, and interest on the debt will consume the entire federal budget n 16 years.

  • garyfouse

    We always knew the Dems would find the necessary votes. All it takes is a missing car with a trunk full of ballots to turn up. They keep counting until they get the result they want.