Capitol Alert

Meet California’s new lawmakers + Another Democratic pickup? + Historic turnout

Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, D-Grand Terrace, takes the oath of office on Dec. 5, 2016.
Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, D-Grand Terrace, takes the oath of office on Dec. 5, 2016. Associated Press

Another year, another session. Let’s jump right in…


As California continues to count ballots, newcomers are making their way to the Capitol today for a new session. A few members are expected to introduce bills, but Monday will largely consist of procedural activities.

The 2019-2020 session convenes at noon. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will administer the oath office for the Assembly, while state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will handle the Senate.

The Senate will see nine newcomers, while the Assembly will have eight or nine new lawmakers (depending on one close race). Here’s a few interesting tidbits:

  • With Sen.-elect Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, emerging as the winner, she’ll join her sister, Blanca, in the Capitol. Blanca Rubio will return to the Assembly. They are the first sisters in state history to serve in the Legislature.
  • Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, narrowly defeated Assemblywoman Catharine Baker. With Baker’s loss, no Republicans represent Bay Area districts in the Legislature.
  • Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, came out with a surprising (and resounding) victory over state Sen. Andy Vidak. At 30.7 years old, Hurtado will become the youngest woman ever elected to the California Senate. She’s also the youngest state senator since 1981.


As if the Democrats needed any more power, they could potentially pick up another seat currently occupied by a Republican. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, leads Democratic challenger Sunday Gover by under 757 votes, or 0.4 percentage points. The district is entirely contained in San Diego, and about 3,428 ballots remain uncounted. This legislative race is on pace to be the tightest in California. Gover would need to win a little over 61 percent of the remaining votes.

While she may make up some ground and close in on Maienschein’s lead, the math is not in her favor. San Diego County will provide its next update of ballots this afternoon. Maienschein appears to be in a good position to win, giving Republicans a 20th seat in the Assembly.


California is expected to see historic turnout for a non-presidential election. This year’s elections are on pace to have the highest participation — about 64 percent — among registered voters since 1982. These three urban counties have particularly high numbers:

Los Angeles: Los Angeles County had an impressive showing, with 58.14 percent participation among registered voters, according to the county’s final report released Friday afternoon. The county is working to find out the last time it’s been this high. In 2014, turnout was just 32.42 percent. When Gov. Jerry Brown faced a more competitive opponent in 2010 against Republican Meg Whitman, turnout was at 53.77 percent.

Orange: Orange County will see turnout just below 71 percent. According to Neal Kelley, the county’s registrar, this is the highest turnout in a midterm general election in at least four decades. In 1978, it was 62 percent. Kelley said the county plans to use microfiche to go back further in time.

San Francisco: San Francisco voters showed up in record numbers. With all the ballots counted, official turnout was 74.49 percent — the highest the county has seen in 80 years. According to the city and county Department of Elections, nearly 76 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in 1938.

Counties will submit their official results to the Secretary of State’s Office no later than Dec. 7. The department will certify the statewide results by Dec. 14. A final report will offer more insight into county-wide turnout numbers.


Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) — “At the border today, I met a 3-year-old girl. She was innocent and kind, and was being housed in this shelter. She came here because someone sought a better life for her. CA is a state of refuge. A place of new beginnings. Of compassion and inclusion. We can’t forget that.”

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