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California Dems Win 2 GOP-Held State Senate Seats, Gain Veto-Proof Majority

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Democrats have won two Republican-held California state Senate seats in the Central Valley, giving the party veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Vote totals updated since Election Day made winners Monday of Melissa Hurtado and Assemblywoman Anna Caballero.

Hurtado won the open 12th District seat while Caballero defeated Republican Sen. Andy Vidak in the neighboring 14th District. Both are in the Fresno area. Vidak, of Hanford, has held the seat since a special election in 2013.

The victories give Democrats a two-thirds advantage in the 40-member Senate. The party also has that advantage in the 80-seat Assembly. The party also holds every statewide office, led by Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom.

Two-thirds majorities allow Democrats to raise taxes, suspend legislative rules and override vetoes without Republican votes.

All the state Assembly seats and half the Senate seats were up for grabs in the election. Democrats tried to capitalize on California voters' strong opposition to Republican President Donald Trump and opposed GOP-led efforts to repeal last year's gas and vehicle tax hikes that annually raise $5 billion to support transportation improvements. The ballot measure failed last week.

Tens of thousands of votes remained to be counted after Election Day. As they were tallied, Hurtado and Caballero outpaced their rivals.

Hurtado, a Sanger city councilwoman, held an 8,000-vote lead in the district that includes all or parts of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.

"During the course of the campaign my visits to communities convinced me we need to do more in the district in terms of improving access to health care, creating jobs, and providing children with a meaningful education," she said in a victory statement. "I promise to work hard on these issues. And as a member of the state Senate, I will stand with other Central Valley legislators to make sure we get our fair share of water."

Vidak conceded Monday. "It has been the greatest honor of my life these past five years to represent my friends and neighbors in the 14th State Senate District," he said in a statement.

The 12th District seat is being vacated by Republican Sen. Anthony Cannella, who could not run again because of term limits.

Republican Madera County Supervisor Rob Poythress conceded his loss and congratulated Caballero. She led by about 6,200 votes in the district that includes all or parts of Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito and Stanislaus counties.

"We gave it all and left nothing in the table," Poythress said in a statement.

Caballero promised to work hard to meet the needs of rural residents on access to health care, education, clean water and clean air, affordable housing, and agricultural production in a Legislature dominated by lawmakers representing urban areas.

"The outcome tells me the message and vision of our campaign was the right one for rural California and the district's voters," she said in a statement.

The wins give Democrats at least 28 votes in the upper chamber.

Democrats had been expected to retain their supermajority in the Assembly, particularly after voters in the June primary election chose two Democrats to compete for the seat vacated by incumbent GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chavez in coastal San Diego County.


© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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