Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Democrats may have super majority in Sacramento

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If Democrats secure a super majority in the state legislature, Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, left, and Governor Jerry Brown say they'll have to control the party's urge to spend.

California Democrats appear to have clinched a super majority in the state legislature — control of two-thirds of the seats in both the Senate and Assembly. Such numbers would empower Democrats to raise taxes and expedite fiscal changes though urgency legislation without Republican votes.

Millions of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are still being counted, and some races are too close to call, but Democratic leaders are confident the numbers will work out for them. Those leaders have claimed they could balance the state budget and solve long-term fiscal problems if they didn’t need Republican cooperation.

That theory could be put to a test in the next legislative session. Bob Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies, says a super majority gives Democrats more flexibility — but it also puts the onus on them: "Now, Democrats have to come through and show that they’re a responsible party, as opposed to making excuses."


Jackie Lacey faces reporters for first time as LA DA-elect

Jackie Lacey

Grant Slater/KPCC

Jackie Lacey speaks to supporters on election night after winning the Los Angeles District Attorney race.

At her first news conference the day after her historic election as L.A.’s top prosecutor, District Attorney-elect Jackie Lacey was asked about becoming the county's first female and first African-American D.A.  But before she could answer, her boss suggested a response.

“Tell ‘em it was on the merits,” said L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley as he stood next to Lacey on the 18th floor of the downtown criminal courts building.  It was kind of a whisper, but everyone in the D.A.’s conference room could hear him.

“I’m sorry Steve, I think I’ve got this one,” Lacey retorted.  Everyone laughed.  Lacey and Cooley are friends, and his endorsement was key to her election.  She serves as his second-in-command.

It’s probably not the first time Lacey’s wrangled a white man butting into her business.  And Cooley did not shut up when Lacey indicated she was prepared to give her own answer about why voters elected her.


Patt Morrison answers your questions about the CA propositions (archived chat)

Patt Morrison

Courtesy Robert Stern/ Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Robert Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies and Patt Morrison.

Have questions about what the outcomes of the California propositions mean for you or your family?  What will happen in the short term, now that Obama's reelection is in the bag? Where will the Republican Party go from here?

Join Patt Morrison and Bob Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies, for a live chat about the election results. 

Join in the conversation on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m. and get your questions answered in real time. 

Election Results Map:


Wins, losses in California Assembly races

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

David Besbris, left, a member of SAG-AFTRA, Steve Flint, and Ellen McCrea, members of IATSA Local 600, canvass a Pasadena neighborhood during election day on Tuesday

In the San Fernando Valley, it looks like Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon’s political career may be over, at least for now. The longtime politician – who had stints on the city council, in the state Senate and very briefly in the state Assembly – lost the 39th Assembly District seat to Raul Bocanegra, who pulled ahead with 59 percent of the vote. It was a tough race for Alarcon, who is facing multiple felony counts of voter fraud and perjury for allegedly living outside of his city council district.

Last month, Alarcon told reporters that the case cast a dark shadow over his race.

“The issue is about residency and I think all the voters have the opportunity to consider my service versus a residency issue and let the courts decide,” he said.

The race was also an example of political musical chairs. Raul Bocanegra is the chief of staff to incumbent Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes. Fuentes is leaving the Assembly to run for Richard Alarcon’s seat on the city council.


Proposition 36: Three Strikes reform passes easily

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley endorsed Prop. 36.

California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 36, which amends the state's Three Strikes law to mandate that a third strike, which carries a life sentence, be a serious or violent crime.

Sixty-nine percent voted "yes" on the measure. California's Three Strikes law, once considered the toughest in the country, now looks more like dozens of other similar laws around the country.

California voters have rejected changes to the law, passed 18 years ago, in the past. In 2004, Proposition 66, which would have more drastically changed the law, failed despite polling well in the weeks before the election. Proposition 36, a considerably more modest reform, did not see the kind of coordinated opposition past reform efforts faced.

Nevertheless, district attorneys around the state opposed the change, which gives them less discretion over who should face the state's toughest punishments. But the L.A. and San Francisco D.A.'s, Steve Cooley and George Gascon, notably endorsed Proposition 36, saying the reform would help strengthen the law's legitimacy.