Does it matter if Democrats regain a supermajority in the Legislature?

It's been two weeks since Election Day, and the balance of power in the state Capitol is riding on one senate race in southern California (Nov. 22, 2016)

Contrary to how the party performed at the national level, California Democrats are looking at a possible impressive sweep this election season.

Democrats now have two-thirds of the seats in the state Assembly, after knocking out three incumbent Republicans, and could pull-off the same in the state Senate, where their legislative "supermajority" rides on one closely-watched senate race down in southern California.

Senate District 29, which touches Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, has been in Republican control for decades, but it could be turned over to Democrats. After an update out of Orange and LA counties on Tuesday evevning, Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang, a Diamond Bar Republican, trailed Fullerton Democrat Josh Newman by 1,396. 

A researcher at the Target Book, an almanac of California politics, pointed out on Twitter that in just the previous week, Chang lead the race by 5,053 votes. 

It would be the second time Democrats have had "supermajority" control in the Legislature since 2012, allowing members to pass taxes, place measures on the statewide ballot and to overturn the governor's vetoes -- all without the need of Republican support.

Prior to 2012, it hadn't been since 1933 that one party controlled both legislative houses -- and back then, it was Republicans who ruled the roost. But now, Democrats could control both state house and hold all of California's statewide offices. 

When it comes to passing new laws, legislative historian Alex Vassar said Gov. Jerry Brown, "will be the most conservative person in the life of a bill.”

If Democrats regain the supermajority status, it puts more pressure on them to produce results in a way that maintains their seats. The Party didn't leverage that power to increase taxes or pass sweeping legislation in 2012 before losing their supermajority in the 2014 election cycle.

One area where a supermajority vote would come in handy for Democratic lawmakers is in passing a transportation bill, which includes a gas tax increase of 17 cents. The $7.3 billion plan has stalled this year due to a lack of Republican support.

Could the GOP make a comeback in the Golden State?

Given that new term limit rules allow lawmakers to serve in either house for a total of up to 12 years, a GOP comeback is likely not going to happen anytime soon. 

“California is very heavily blue – and is highly likely to remain in the hands of the Democrats for the foreseeable future," said Darry Sragow, a former Democratic strategists and publisher of the Target Book. "There are now more voters registered as independent or third party than Republican."

Sragow said the state GOP leadership understands they have a problem, and Chairman Jim Brulte is committed to fixing the problem: being a party with a majority white voting base in a state where people of color are the majority.

"When you look at likely Republican voters in California, 77 percent of them are white, or Anglo," Sragow said. "And there is a disconnect there, the Republicans are at a disadvantage."

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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