Saturday, January 05, 2013

Saturday Politics: CA Dem's Fragile Supermajority

As a result of the 2012 elections California Democrats finally have a super-majority above the crucial two-thirds threshold in the California legislature. They have 55 seats in the 80-member Assembly and 29 seats in the 40-member Senate. Out of 120 California legislators, just 35 are  Republicans (10 in the state senate and 25 in the state assembly). A two-thirds majority in the Assembly is 54 seats and 27 seats in the Senate.

With a two-thirds majority in the legislature Democrats can completely control what legislation becomes law in California and can dictate all aspects of public policy.

However, the Democratic supermajority is likely to be short-lived and evanescent over the next year or so due the political musical chairs caused by politicians moving from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. as well as the impact of the upcoming Los Angeles municipal election. (Los Angeles City councilmembers have a salary which exceeds that of a state Assemblymember or state Senator.)

San Jose Mercury News reports:
"There will be a very short window that Democrats will have the supermajority," said Eric Bauman, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party. "So I've been cautioning party activists to be patient."
Assembly Democrats will lose their two-thirds majority in late April if, as expected, Assembly members Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, and Norma Torres, D-Pomona, win special elections for seats that open when two state senators leave for Congress. And the Assembly will likely lose two other members when one runs for the Los Angeles City Council and another leaps to the Senate after another senator also runs for the council. If that all happens, Assembly Democrats won't be able to recapture their supermajority until January 2014.
Even with the resignation of State Senators Gloria Negrete McLeod and Juan Vargas to join the 113th Congress, the Democrats still have a two-thirds majority in the senate, but will likely lose a two-thirds majority in the Assembly when Hueso and Torres run for those state senate seats. If they win, then the Democrats will no longer have a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, but after the Los Angeles municipal elections on May 21, 2013 it will become clearer when or if Democrats will regain their supermajority in the legislature.

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