When the number one question about the California state senate isn’t whether Democrats will keep their majority in the chamber but whether they’ll keep their supermajority, then the Democrats have already won. Currently, Democrats hold a 28-12 edge in the state senate. That includes two Democrats who are currently on leaves of absence and a Republican held seat that’s vacant. Mike Morrell, a Republican assemblyman, is expected to win that seat in a special election. The question is whether he’ll top 50% in the March 25 primary or have to wait for a June run-off. If Morrell wins, as expected, Democrats will hold a 15-5 edge among seats not up in 2014.
That leaves them with a 13-7 edge in seats that are up. Of those seats, 11 of the Democratic districts are safe and 5 of the Republican districts are safe. Due to redistricting, Riverside county was given an additional district while San Francisco lost one. This district, SD-28, gets its first election this year. There are three viable Republican candidates, city councilman Glenn Miller, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, and former assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia. Neither of the two Democrats has submitted a campaign finance report. The biggest question here isn’t whether a Republican will win the district, one will, but whether Republicans will occupy both of the top two slots. The GOP should get about 65% of the primary vote, which is what they got in similar Southern California districts in 2012.
Republicans winning SD-28 would give Democrats a 26-11 edge in state senators, two short of their current number and one short of a supermajority. Two Central Valley Republicans, Anthony Cannella and Andy Vidak, are up for re-election. Barack Obama won these districts by 17% and 19% and Jerry Brown won by 7% and 11%.
Cannella’s new district, SD-12, is similar to his old one. He won that district by 3% but this time he’s an incumbent, has nearly $1 million C-O-H, and his Democratic opponent dropped out in early March. He was replaced by Salinas businessman Shawn Bagley. Salinas is very Democratic coastal California city with not a lot in common with this Central Valley district. Since there are only two candidates both will advance.
Democratic prospects are slightly better in the Central Valley district to the south, SD-14. Andy Vidak was elected in a July 2013 special election in a district where Barack Obama won by 25%. So this district should be more favorable to him. He doesn’t have nearly have the C-O-H Canella does and his opponent, Fresno unified trustee Luis Chavez, has been running longer and actually is from the district. Chavez hasn’t submitted a campaign finance report yet, indicating he hasn’t had much in the way of donations. The good news for Chavez is that the state party just put $200,000 in his campaign account, while unions and two state senators put in another $26,600. Since there are only two candidates both will advance.
If both Cannella and Vidak win, the Democratic supermajority will hinge on term limited Democrat Lou Correa’s state senate seat. Democrats have one candidate in SD-34, college trustee Jose Solorio. Republicans are strongly backing Orange County supervisor Janet Nguyen, although a second Republican, businessman Long Pham, is in the mix. This district is more Republican than Correa’s current one. Jerry Brown won that district by 11%. Meg Whitman won this one by 5%. That could spell trouble for Democrats in November but Solorio and a Republican will advance to that election.