Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown won in most battleground districts where Democrats lost

Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill meant to reduce worker's compensation costs in 2012. To Brown’s right is then-Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state Senate this year.
Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill meant to reduce worker's compensation costs in 2012. To Brown’s right is then-Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state Senate this year. AP

Democrats would have maintained their legislative super-majorities if Gov. Jerry Brown’s top-of-ticket coattails had extended further into other races on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Brown, a Democrat, easily defeated Republican Neel Kashkari to win a fourth term as governor. Along the way, Brown carried all but two of the battleground legislative districts on the ballot.

In other hotly contested legislative races, the results suggest that many Brown backers supported Republicans further down the ballot. In addition, an average of 1.5 percent of people who voted in the governor’s race did not do so in the competitive legislative contest – the so-called undervote, according to final election numbers.

The chart below shows the final votes of Brown, Kashkari and candidates in the most competitive legislative seats. Or click here.

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Democrats begin the 2015-16 session with a 52-seat majority in the Assembly, down three seats from the end of last session, and two seats fewer than the two-thirds margin of 54 needed to approve taxes, place measures on the ballot, or take other actions requiring a supermajority.

In the Senate, Democrats start the session with 26 seats, one less than the two-thirds threshold of 27, after losing a pair of competitive races.

Brown focused his campaign efforts this fall on winning passages of water bond and budget reserve ballot measures, with little visible help for down-ticket Democratic candidates. He taped a television ad for Democrat Jose Solorio in the 34th Senate District, where Brown defeated Kashkari by 4.8 percentage points, but Republican Janet Nguyen defeated Solorio by 16.2 percentage points. In late October, he stumped for Democrat Tim Sbranti in Pleaseanton, part of the 16th Assembly District, where Brown defeated Kashkari by 25 percentage points but Republican Catharine Baker bested Sbranti by 3.2 percentage points.

In 2013, Brown said that even if Democrats lost supermajority status, “I don’t think that’s going to make a lot of difference.”

In an email, Brown strategist Dan Newman said last month’s outcome “simply shows the remarkable strength of the governor's reelection victory – in addition to winning overwhelmingly among Democrats, he also won support from Republican and independent voters who rarely support Democratic candidates.”

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.

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