After three weeks of counting votes, Democrat Josh Newman finally prevailed in California’s pivotal 29th District state Senate race in suburban Orange County. With 27 of 40 state Senate seats and 55 of 80 state Assembly seats, Democrats will now have over two-thirds of seats in both chambers, regaining the coveted legislative supermajority they held from 2012 to 2014. This threshold is crucial for legislation because California requires a two-thirds vote for any tax increase thanks to 1978's infamous Proposition 13.
With Republicans steadfastly opposed to even the most common sense of increases, progressives previously had to take any sort of new taxes straight to the voters via ballot initiatives. However, now Democrats will theoretically have enough support on their own to raise new revenue directly. They are discussing using it to fund vitally needed transportation infrastructure, major health-care programs, and even making the tax system itself fairer and more progressive.
While 2016 was a disaster for Democrats in much of the country, Hillary Clinton’s 30-point landslide in California was the largest margin there for any Democratic presidential candidate since 1936, making it a rare bright spot. Her coattails were likely instrumental to helping the party downballot in state Senate races like the 29th District, since she was also the first Democrat to win Orange County since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. With Democrats now having the ability to advance key tax reforms, we could soon see a tide of more progressive policies in the state that is home to one-in-eight Americans.