Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Tuesday, Sep. 4, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

As the Legislature adjourned for three months last Friday, the Capitol turned its attention to the Nov. 6 election, and particularly three – or perhaps four – state Senate contests whose outcomes could affect the balance of legislative power.

Democrats now hold 25 of the Senate’s 40 seats. If they were to gain two more this year, they would have a two-thirds supermajority and could pass certain kinds of legislation, such as tax increases, without Republican votes.

That power would increase pressure on Republicans in the Assembly, who, it’s assumed, will continue to hold more than a third of its seats and therefore could, if they hang together, block tax increases.

Such solidarity, however, is not guaranteed. This year, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez was able to peel off enough Republicans to win Assembly approval of his measure that would raise taxes on some multistate corporations by more than $1 billion a year.

Back to the Senate.

The prospect of Democrats getting to 27 Senate seats this year arises from the new districts that an independent commission drew after the 2010 census.

It quickly became apparent that a two-seat Democratic gain in 2012 would be possible with those new districts. And when Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, opted to run for Congress rather than run against Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills in a newly redrawn 27th Senate District, that two-seat gain appeared to be certain.

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