Modest gains for GOP in deep blue California

Campaign 2014
by Angela Lu Fulton
Posted 11/05/14, 02:50 pm

LOS ANGELES—Tuesday’s Republican tidal wave didn’t reach deep blue California. But a couple of key wins have jeopardized the Democrats’ chances of another supermajority in the state legislature and brought fresh new faces to California’s dwindling Republican Party.

Gov. Jerry Brown easily won an unprecedented fourth term as governor against his nearly unknown Republican competitor, Neel Kashkari. Democrats also swept all the statewide offices, despite close races for Secretary of State and Controller.

In the 2012 election, Democrats won a two-thirds supermajority in both the State Senate and Assembly, giving them the ability to increase taxes without Republican votes. They lost that power in the Senate this year after three Democratic senators were ousted on corruption charges. Last night, Republican wins in Central Valley and Orange County prevented Democrats from regaining their supermajority in the Senate, while the Assembly awaits a few races that are too close to call.

State Sen. Andy Vidak, a cherry farmer from Hanford in the Central Valley, defeated challenger Luis Chavez in his Democratic-leaning district. While 11 percent of the district voted for President Barak Obama in the 2012 elections, the recent drought and Sacramento’s restrictive water policies have angered area residents, most of whom work in agriculture. That sentiment affected the region’s House races as well, with Republican dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra in a tight lead over incumbent Rep. Jim Costa. The upset surprised even the GOP, as Tacherra ran his campaign on $307,000, compared to Costa’s $1.3 million.

In Orange County, Republican Janet Nguyen, an Orange County supervisor, crushed Democrat Jose Solorio for the state Senate seat of termed-out Democratic state Sen. Lou Correa. Nguyen is one of the growing number of female Asian-American Republican candidates on the ballot in Orange County. In a closely watched race, Republican Young Kim beat Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva in Fullerton, while Ling-Ling Chang won an Assembly seat in Yorba Linda, and Michelle Park Steel won an Orange County Board of Supervisors race.

In San Diego, openly gay Republican Carl DeMaio and freshman Rep. Scott Peters are neck-and-neck, with DeMaio leading by 752 votes. About 180,000 absentee and provisional ballots in the county are still to be counted. In the brutal campaign, a former staffer accused DeMaio of sexual misconduct, and his campaign office was completely vandalized in June. 

Angela Lu Fulton

Angela is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine and a part-time editor for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Angela resides in Taipei, Taiwan. Follow her on Twitter @angela818.


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