While most of the country moved right over the past four years, California has been marching to the beat of a different drummer. President Obama carried the Golden State by 23 points in 2012, but Hillary Clinton expanded the Democratic margin to a whopping 30 points, or more than four million votes.
As Team Clinton learned the hard way, running up gigantic partisan supermajorities in blue states doesn’t help you win the White House. But it does help you consolidate control of statehouses. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Democrat Josh Newman has defeated Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) to win the race for the 29th Senate District, giving Democrats in the Legislature a two-thirds majority in both houses.
The Associated Press called the race Monday evening for Newman, who had been steadily gaining ground as provisional and absentee ballots were counted over the last three weeks. […]
With a supermajority, a political party can raise taxes, place measures on the statewide ballot, enact laws immediately with an “urgency” clause and override a governor’s veto.
California Governor Jerry Brown, viewed as a liberal utopian when he came on to the state political scene in the 1970s, has now become one of the more pragmatic voices in Sacramento, pushing for pension reform and vetoing some of the Democratic legislature’s more aggressive left-wing initiatives in areas like school choice and gun control. But now legislative Democrats will have a sufficient majority to override Brown’s vetoes for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2018. After that, there is a chance that he will be replaced by a more ideological figure.
Despite its thriving technology sector, the Golden State has a host of serious problems, including a pension deficit exceeding a trillion dollars, poor-quality public schools, and the highest poverty rate in the country. The state’s 39 million residents are best-served by having two competitive parties offering serious solutions. So even as the GOP revels in its impressive gains in other blue strongholds over the past four years, rebuilding a party that can compete in California should remain a top priority for Republicans.