California Democrats have recaptured a supermajority in the state Senate as Democrat Ben Hueso sailed to victory in a special election for a vacant San Diego-area Senate seat Tuesday night.
Hueso, a state assemblyman from San Diego, had 52.3 percent of the vote in unofficial results in the race to replace former Sen. Juan Vargas in the 40th Senate District. Vargas resigned to assume a House seat he won in the November election. Because Hueso tallied above 50 percent, he won the seat outright, avoiding a later runoff election. He is scheduled to be sworn in on March 21.
The Senate briefly lost its supermajority status last month, when Sen. Michael Rubio, D-East Bakersfield, resigned unexpectedly to take a job with Chevron Corp.
The Assembly will hold on to its supermajority status when Hueso departs for the upper house, but not for long. At least one other Assembly Democrat, Bob Blumenfield, is expected to resign this summer to take a Los Angeles City Council seat he won in a recent primary. Successors to both Blumenfield and Hueso will be selected in later special elections.
The results of runoff elections for other Los Angeles seats being sought by legislators and another vacant Senate district up for a vote Tuesday could also shift the balance of power in both houses.
Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, tallied 43.6 percent of the vote Tuesday night in a contest for the Inland Empire's 32nd Senate District, which was left open when former state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, joined Congress in January. Torres will face Republican Paul Leon, who had 26.4 percent of the vote, in a May 14 runoff.
The supermajority status could allow legislative Democrats to pass new taxes, place measures on the ballot and override a gubernatorial veto without any GOP votes. Most of the seats that are expected to open up as a result of the upcoming election dominoes are considered safe Democratic districts, leaving leaders with little cause for concern about the temporary shifts in their majority power.
Call Torey Van Oot, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5544. Follow her on Twitter @capitolalert.