Capitol Alert

Dems get full supermajority + Kinney aiding transition

Hurtado believes voters wanted change in 14th Senate District

In an unlikely upset, Sanger Democrat Melissa Hurtado beat Republican incumbent Andy Vidak in California's 14th Senate District.
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In an unlikely upset, Sanger Democrat Melissa Hurtado beat Republican incumbent Andy Vidak in California's 14th Senate District.


Melissa Hurtado was confident she could unseat State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford.

“I felt positive going into Election Day that I could come out winning, and I felt that all along,” Hurtado.

But what Hurtado never imagined was an 8-point victory, reflective of a blue wave that has swept across California.

On Monday evening, the Associated Press declared her the winner, which officially gave Democrats a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate. Hurtado claimed victory earlier in the day but was at a loss for words on the phone as news of the AP’s announcement sunk in.

Asked what she most wanted people to know about her, she couldn’t find the words to describe what she was feeling. “I want people to call me,” she finally muttered.

Hurtado’s win was perhaps the most surprising for those who haven’t been following the race in the Fresno area. But she wasn’t alone in the victory column Monday night.

She was joined by Democrat Anna Caballero, who was competing against Rob Poythress for an open Senate seat in the GOP-held Modesto district.

The AP also announced Monday that Assemblyman Rudy Salas would hold onto his seat. With his win, Democrats hold onto their supermajority in the Assembly. The party will soon have its largest advantage in the chamber in 40 years, dealing a major blow to an ever-diminishing group of Republicans. Democrats now outnumber Republicans 55-18 and are in prime position to hold onto at least one of their two Assembly seats, while also picking up as many as five GOP seats.


Alexei Koseff writes…

Sacramento political consultant and longtime Newsom adviser Jason Kinney has left his advocacy firm, California Strategies, and deregistered as a lobbyist.

Kinney is now helping newly-appointed chief of staff Ann O’Leary lead the transition for the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom. He filed to terminate his lobbyist registration on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Kinney registered five years ago, after he was fined $12,000 by California’s political ethics watchdog agency for trying to influence state government decisions without registering as a lobbyist. He was also scrutinized for improperly registering as a foreign agent in 2008 as he launched a publicity campaign for an exiled Arab sheik.

A former speechwriter for Gov. Gray Davis, Kinney in recent years has handled communications for the California Senate Democrats’ political activities and the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, which Newsom championed.


Everyone is gunning for Gavin Newsom’s attention these days. With the next governor prepping for his transition, he will also have to prioritize the policies he most wants to pursue.

No issue has been more important to Gov. Jerry Brown than climate change. He wants the Delta tunnels project approved in his final weeks in office, and will continue to shine a light on the environment after he leaves office. But will clean air and water be Newsom’s top priority?

The Public Policy Institute of California is holding a 3.5-hour event starting at 9 a.m. today to discuss challenges and solutions to water issues across the state. Participants will also hear ideas on how Newsom can promote water policies that will support California’s economy.


You know him, you like him and you won’t want to miss him. At 7 p.m. tonight, The Bee’s own Alexei Koseff will participate in a panel discussion at Sacramento State discussing the midterms and how reporters should cover elections. The university’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is hosting the event.


Several million ballots remain uncounted, and plenty of races have yet to be officially called. Here’s the latest numbers in some key seats, as of 8 p.m. Monday:

House of Representatives

  • District 10: Democratic challenger Josh Harder leads Republican Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, by 1.8 percentage points — a difference of 3,363 votes. He is in prime position to give Democrats a fourth pickup in the House from California.

  • District 39: Democrat Gil Cisneros is slowly catching up on Republican Young Kim but still trails by 1.1 percentage points — a difference of 1,957 votes. This will be the toughest remaining pickup opportunity for a Democrat. Kim is already attempting to sow seeds of doubt over the integrity of the vote, writing in a tweet that the Cisneros campaign “has been desperate to influence and alter the outcome of this race.” She also suggested that a change in the outcome “could reflect foul play.” This race is likely to only continue to inch tighter. We could be in store for a dramatic few weeks.

  • District 45: Rep. Mimi Walters could soon find herself losing to Democratic challenger Katie Porter. With thousands more votes left to be counted in Orange County, Walters leads by half a percentage point. Porter is down by just 1,011 votes. Porter is still not in the clear, but she continues to catch up to Walters each day.

Statewide Offices

  • Superintendent of Public Instruction: This is a 50/50 race — literally. With 7.2 million ballots cast, Tony Thurmond has taken a slim lead over Marshall Tuck. Thurmond is up by just 3,889 votes —a lead of less than 0.05 percentage points. Despite the numbers, Thurmond has to be pretty happy where he is, considering he’s made up quite a bit of ground over the last few days.
  • Insurance Commissioner: Democratic State Sen. Ricardo Lara leads independent Steve Poizner by 2.4 percentage points. Having increased his lead steadily since Election Day, Lara appears to be the favorite.

California Legislature

  • Assembly District 16: And then there was one… Catharine Baker is the last remaining Assembly Republican from the Bay Area. But she could soon fall short to Democratic challenger Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. Baker’s lead has been cut to 526 votes, or 0.3 percentage points.
  • Assembly District 38: Assemblyman Dante Acosta is also on the chopping block, clinging to a 0.2-point lead over Democrat Christy Smith. Acosta leads by 213 votes, with several thousand still left to be counted.
  • Assembly District 60: The only remaining pickup opportunity for Republicans lies here. Democratic Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes has a 1-point lead over Republican Bill Essayli. She’s up by 693 votes.
  • Assembly District 74: Republican Assemblyman Matthew Harper is in a bind. Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris is winning by 1.6 percentage points — 2,255 votes.
  • Assembly District 77: Democratic challenger Sunday Gover has a lot of ground to make up if she wants to unseat Republican incumbent Brian Maienschein. She trails by 3.5 percentage points, or 5,110 votes.


Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) — “Trump says California wildfires result from the state’s “gross mismanagement of the forests.” Fact check: 1. The federal government owns 57% of California forest land, while the state owns 2.2%. 2. Trump & Congress just cut U.S. Forest Service budget by 1/3. Facts don’t lie.”

MUST-READ: Brown swings back at Trump: Climate change is propelling California’s fires, governor says


The Bee’s Editorial Board believes President Donald Trump’s tweets about California wildfires were incendiary and have no place in a burning state.


Jack Ohman says you’re fired in California with President Donald Trump