Politics

California Democrats' Senate 'supermajority' hangs on this Orange County district

Election observers watch an employee input provisional ballots at the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
Election observers watch an employee input provisional ballots at the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
Jill Replogle/KPCC

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California’s Democratic and Republican parties are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the ultra-tight race for State Senate District 29, which straddles Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

Republican Ling Ling Chang has held a slight advantage since Election Day, but Democrat Josh Newman is behind by just a few thousand votes.

The outcome of the race will determine whether Democrats have a supermajority in the California Senate — the two-thirds votes needed to pass new taxes under California law. Democrats already secured a super-majority in the State Assembly.

On Thursday, dozens of election observers — from both major political parties — hovered around the desks of employees at the Orange County Registrar of Voters. As the employees entered data from provisional ballots into their computers, observers kept their own tallies on clipboards. 

Susana Rodriguez, a data entry technician at the Registrar of Voters, said it can be nerve-wracking to have a group of people looking over one’s shoulder.

“For the most part, they’re very well-behaved, so it’s okay,” she said. “It’s just a little intense sometimes.”  

Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said there have been on average 120 to 150 observers at his office each day since the Nov. 8 elections.

“From the standpoint of the balance of power in Sacramento obviously there’s a tremendous amount of focus on this,” he said.

Kelley’s office is working long hours to process the remaining Orange County ballots by this weekend. L.A. and San Bernardino counties also need to finish their counts.