LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Democrats have increased their legislative clout despite a Republican backlash that prevented their capturing the supermajority they have long sought in the state Senate.
Jerry Brown's elevation to governor and voters' approval of Proposition 25 Tuesday will further erode Republicans' influence. The ballot measure lowers the vote needed to pass a budget to a simple majority, down from the current two-thirds supermajority. A supermajority will be required to raise taxes.
"It will still be challenging because of the challenges that face California, but it will be much better," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. "We will be able to govern and we will be able to focus on positive agendas in addition to the budget, which we haven't had the luxury of being able to do."
Democrats failed to win the Central Valley's 12th Senate District, which was drawn for a Democrat after the 2000 census but has been held by Republicans since 2002. Republican Anthony Cannella, the mayor of Ceres, won the most contested state Senate battle.
It was one of a handful of competitive races to decide the margin of Democratic control in the state Legislature. The extent of Democrats' majority remained unclear in the Assembly, where several races were too close to call early Wednesday.
They included Assembly District 5, which features Republican Andy Pugno, a Sacramento lawyer who represented supporters of the 2008 Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages.
However, Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-Lodi, won re-election in the neighboring 10th Assembly District. Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, was re-elected in the San Francisco Bay area's 15th Assembly District.
Democrats needed two more votes in the Senate and four in the Assembly for a supermajority, with all 80 Assembly seats and half the 40 Senate seats up for election.
They instead faced fallout from an angry electorate.
The Assembly will get its first tea party member, Republican Tim Donnelly from the 59th Assembly District, which covers parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
Donnelly, who lives near Lake Arrowhead, previously led California's largest Minuteman group. He will replace Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, who retired after he was vilified for approving tax increases last year.
Democrats held Senate District 16, the Central Valley seat being vacated by termed-out Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter. Democratic Kern County Supervisor Michael Rubio defeated Republican businessman Tim Thiesen.
Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, will replace retiring Sen. Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, in Senate District 2. Evans will be replaced by Democrat Michael Allen in the 7th Assembly District.
Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa, will succeed termed-out Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta, in the 36th Senate District. Anderson will be replaced by fellow Republican and Santee City Councilman Brian Jones in the 77th Assembly District.
Former Republican Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa will replace termed-out Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, in the 4th Senate District.
Assemblyman Tom Berryhill will replace his fellow Modesto Republican, retiring Sen. Dave Cogdill, in the 14th Senate District. Assemblywoman Jean Fuller will succeed her fellow Bakersfield Republican, termed-out Sen. Roy Ashburn, in the 18th district. Fuller will be replaced by Republican businesswoman Shannon Grove in her 32nd Assembly District.
No candidate reached the 50 percent of the vote needed to fill the Senate District 1 vacancy left by the July death of Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks. The top vote-getters from each party will meet in a Jan. 4 runoff.
Democratic Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson will replace termed-out Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, in the 9th Assembly district.
San Jose City Council member Nora Campos will succeed her fellow Democrat, termed-out Assemblyman Joe Coto. in the 23rd Assembly District.
Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Martinez, will be succeeded by Democratic Contra Costa County Supervisor Susan Bonilla, in the 11th Assembly District. Assemblyman Mike Villines, R-Clovis, will be replaced by fellow Republican Linda Halderman in the 29th district. Both incumbents are termed out.
Juan Arambula, the Assembly's only independent, will be succeeded by Democrat Henry Perea in the 31st Assembly District.
Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, won re-election in the heavily Democratic 28th Senate District despite her death Oct. 20, setting up a special election to fill the vacancy.
AP Writer Samantha Young contributed to this story from Oakland.