Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California Democrats lose state Senate two-thirds supermajority — for now

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A view of the California State Capitol Feb. 19, 2009 in Sacramento.

Central Valley state Senator Michael Rubio abruptly resigned Friday to head California governmental affairs at Chevron.

With two state Senate seats already vacant, Rubio’s departure pushes Democrats’ numbers below the two-thirds majority they need to raise taxes without Republican support or override a gubernatorial veto.

That is, until, or if, another Democrat wins a senate seat—and that could be as early as 3 weeks from now:

Assemblyman Ben Hueso stands a strong chance of winning a March 12 primary for state Senate District 40 in San Diego, vacated by Juan Vargas.  If he does Senate Democrats regain the majority.

Torrance Assemblywoman Norma Torres, is considered less likely to her primary election for the Riverside senate seat vacated by Gloria Negrete Mcleod.  But even with a runoff in Senate District 32—Democrats would hold onto their two-thirds majority until… Senator Curren Price leaves to take a seat on the LA City Council, presuming he wins.

The primary to elect the city council is March 5th ,   the general election would be early May, but new members don’t get sworn in till June. So Price could remain a state senator long enough for a Democrats to win either the Riverside seat—or Rubio’s Central Valley seat.  Either win lets them hold on to a supermajority if Price leaves.

The special election to fill Rubio’s 16th District senate seat in a special election would fall after the legislature’s June 15th deadline to pass a budget.  The Governor has 14 days to set a date. It’s got to be on a Tuesday, at least 126 days off, roughly four months from now.

But the primary for Rubio’s seat would come before budget time, (between April 30th and May 21st.)

A runoff seems unlikely, given that Rubio won the Central Valley seat with 60.5 percent of the vote back in 2010.

This story has been updated.

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