OUR VIEW: Some post-election observations

November 7, 2012 

Democrats were already in control of the state Legislature, but Tuesday's election appears to have given them a supermajority in both the Assembly and the Senate -- and the ability to pass anything they want without needing Republican support.

That means that the four Republican legislators from our region will be in what Sen. Anthony Cannella of Ceres dubbed the "superminority."

More than ever, they'll need to figure out how to work with Democrats to get their legislation passed. Fortunately, our representatives have a pretty good track record of working across the aisle and avoiding the strident language and strategies that only put them at odds with their Democratic colleagues.

Our area's lone Democrat in Sacramento will be Adam Gray of Merced, who was elected Tuesday to the new 21st Assembly District, which includes part of Stanislaus and all of Merced County. He's a former legislative staffer who will be better equipped than most freshmen to jump into the fray.

While some conservatives want to categorize all Democrats as liberals and leftists, that's not an accurate assessment. Gray ran as a moderate and he believes that some of the other new Democrats will be moderates as well.

The Republican Party in California has gotten a rude awakening this fall, with its voter registration level slipping below 30 percent and with Tuesday's decisive wins by the Democrats, including passage of Proposition 30.

"What we're selling, people aren't buying," Cannella told us Wednesday. He's right. Many Californians, especially young people, perceive the Republican party as "hostile to Hispanics, gays and women and that we don't want to build anything."

Even in an area as conservative as Stanislaus County, the Republicans have fewer registered voters than Democrats. And the decline to state group continues to grow.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen easily won her race Tuesday and she, too, acknowledges that GOP must shed its reputation as the party of old white guys.

In the sprawling 5th Assembly District, which runs along the Mother Lode and Sierra from Madera north to South Lake Tahoe, voters chose Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow over a far more partisan Republican, Rico Oller.

We congratulate Olsen, Gray, Bigelow and Bill Berryhill, who had a strong lead and is likely to be the winner for the new 5th Senate District. It includes much of Modesto, all of San Joaquin County and a sliver of Sacramento County.

Bill will join his brother Tom in the Senate. Bill Berryhill told us Wednesday that he plans to continue to focus on delta issues and will work on putting on the ballot in 2014 an initiative to reduce regulations on business. Both Berryhills have worked effectively with Democrats.

Our region will have quality representation in Sacramento for the next two years; most of them will just have to work a little harder with the supermajorities.

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