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Democrats' Supermajority Down By 2 In State Senate

SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) -- Senate Democrats are beginning the new two-year session Monday with a 27-vote supermajority -- instead of 29 votes -- because Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino and Juan Vargas of San Diego resigned their seats last week after being elected to Congress.

The outcome of special elections to fill their seats this spring could lead to vacancies in the Assembly as Democrats there run in the Democrat-leaning Senate districts.

Meanwhile, a special election in the 4th Senate District on Tuesday is expected to complete the Republican caucus. Former Assemblyman Jim Nielsen of Gerber is the front-runner to replace Doug La Malfa of Willows, who resigned in midterm to take a seat in Congress.

Nielsen faces Democrat and union activist Mickey Harrington of Magalia.

Assuming Democrats retain the open seats, there will be 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans in the 40-member Senate. Democrats hold 55 of the 80 Assembly seats, one more than needed for a supermajority, while there are 25 Republicans.

Republicans last month gave up on a recount in the 36th Assembly District. That left Democrat Steve Fox, who was sworn in to the Assembly last month, the winner over Republican Ron Smith by just 145 votes. That district includes parts of Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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