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Toni Atkins coasted to a re-election victory Tuesday night, but the Assembly Speaker may ultimately be the San Diego state lawmaker who lost the most.
When Atkins replaced John A. Perez for the Assembly’s top spot in May, it was generally assumed that Atkins wouldn’t have to worry about any unflattering comparisons to her predecessor. Perez, after all, was a pretty unpopular leader around the state capitol. (Exhibit A: his loss in the state controller primary.)
But Perez had one major success: engineering the Democrats’ unexpected capture of a two-thirds supermajority in 2012. That victory gave the Democrats carte blanc run the Assembly. (Granted, the Democrats didn’t do much with their new-found power, but that’s a whole other story.)
Coming into this election, Atkins was under the gun to maintain the Democrats’ Assembly stranglehold. There’s an old adage in politics that a party’s top priority is always defense — that is, protecting what it already has. Winning new seats always comes in second.
So how did Atkins do? Well, it appears the new speaker may have the honor of being the leader who lost the Democrats’ supermajority.
Republicans needed to win 27 seats in the Assembly to dismantle the supermajority. By Wednesday, it was clear they’d won 25 seats. In two other races — the 16th District in Alameda and the 66th District in coastal Los Angeles County — the GOP held leads with ballots still to be counted.
Atkins’ fate isn’t sealed yet. The uncounted ballots could break her way. But if the trends continue, she’ll have presided over a major erosion of the Democrats’ power. And make no mistake, this loss will fall squarely on her shoulders. As the Assembly speaker, she is not only the leader of the lower house, she is her party’s chief campaign strategist for the Assembly.
That said, Democrats took it in the shorts almost everywhere on Election Day — including in the state Senate, where they lost a chance at a supermajority there too. Atkins very well may be an election night loser, but she’ll be in good company with other Dems nationwide.
State Election Wrap
• As expected, all of San Diego’s incumbent state lawmakers seeking re-election won, as did Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates, who will replace state Sen. Mark Wyland. (U-T)
• California voters approved the water bond, aka Prop. 1 (L.A. Times)
• Ditto for Prop. 2, the rainy-day fund measure. (L.A. Times)
• That was quick: The state’s credit rating jumped shortly after Prop. 2 was approved. (Sacramento Bee)
• Californians voted down Props. 45, 46 and 48, but approved Prop. 47, the sentencing reform proposal. (San Jose Mercury News)
• Democrats swept the statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, etc. (U-T)
• The Republican wave on election night didn’t exactly reach California. (L.A. Times)
• Big surprise: The biggest spenders on the propositions won on election night. (S.F. Chronicle)
• Oh yeah, and Jerry Brown won his fourth term as governor. (L.A. Times)
Quick News Hits
• Former L.A. state Sen. Rod Wright, convicted of eight felonies, including voting fraud and perjury, began severing his 90-day jail sentence last Friday but was released almost immediately thanks to jail overcrowding. (L.A. Times)
• How convenient: Political calls are not covered by the Do Not Call registry. (L.A. Times)
• Get to know the Strategic Growth Council, a cabinet-level body in the Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that is expected to play a big role in Moonbeam’s fourth and final term as governor. (Capitol Weekly)
• State lawmakers often fail to disclose how they spend their money when they use campaign credit cards. (Sacramento Bee)
• Bonus: lawmakers can collect points on those credit card purchases too! (Sacramento Bee)
• New polling shows voters support the state’s new plastic grocery bag ban. (L.A. Times)
• Starting Jan. 1, big California employers will be required to teach their employees about workplace bullying when they conduct sexual harassment training, thanks to a bill written by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. (U-T)
Prediction: Aside for perhaps some grumbling from the party insiders, Atkins will face no major consequences if she loses the supermajority — and she will. Democrats will chalk the loss up to a Republican wave and move on. So will Atkins.