State Capitol

Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
June 4, 2014

Last election cycle, the main story was Democrats claiming a decisive two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature.

Tuesday night’s primary results foreshadowed how that dominance may change come the November general election, with a handful of close contests poised to reshape the makeup of the Legislature.

Democrats aren’t concerned about retaining a majority in both houses. But that supermajority – which enables Democrats to raise taxes, place measures on the ballot or have laws take effect immediately without Republican votes – is more precarious.

In the Assembly, Democrats currently hold 55 seats – one more than the minimum two-thirds margin. Most of those are safe seats, nestled in districts where the Democratic skew of registered voters makes a Republican takeover unlikely.

But in some districts, Democrats have a more tenuous hold on power. That opens a route for Republicans to push Assembly Democrats below the two-thirds margin.

“The key path for the Republicans is, they need to pick up two seats and hold what they’ve got,” said Matt Rexroad, a Republican consultant. “If Republicans are trying to pick up seats in a general election, when it’s a presidential election it’s extremely difficult. If they’re going to do it, this is the time.”

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