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"It was a splendid population - for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home - you never find that sort of people among pioneers - you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day - and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, "Well, that is California all over."

- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Republican wins Central Valley state Senate race

GOP Cherry Farmer takes Senate
seat away from the Democrats

(Update - It appears the announcement that Republican farmer Andy Vidak won outright former Senator Michael Rubio's seat may have been premature: an updated vote count puts Vidak below the 50-percent-plus-one threshold he needed to surpass to avoid a runoff against his Democratic opponent, Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

An updated total posted on the Secretary of State's website at 3:21 this afternoon gave Vidak 49.8 percent of the vote and Perez 43.8 percent.

Observation.  I find it interesting that the "extra votes" that are found after election day always vote Democrat.  Just an observation.)

A Republican has won a hotly contested state Senate contest in the southern San Joaquin Valley, with his top Democratic rival conceding Wednesday that the race will not go to a runoff.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Vidak -- a Republican from Hanford -- won 51.9 percent of the vote in Tuesday's special election for the vacant seat.

Democratic challenger Leticia Perez -- Kern County's 5th district supervisor -- won 41.7 percent of the vote. She conceded early Wednesday morning and congratulated Vidak on the victory.

Fellow Democrat Francisco Ramirez had 3 percent of the vote. Democrat Paulina Miranda had 2.6 percent, and Peace and Freedom candidate Mohammed Arif has 0.6 percent reports KERO 23 ABC News.

The special election victory by Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak will have no practical effect on the state Senate, where Democrats retain a supermajority, but serves as a psychological boost for the party after massive GOP losses in recent election cycles.
Democratic Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, of Bakersfield, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, both ceded the 16th Senate District race to Vidak.  Perez has raised more than $1.1 million, largely from the state party, Senate Democrats in Sacramento and political action committees. Vidak raised more than $850,000, with a lot of cash from district agriculture, and an assist from Senate Republicans and the Tulare County GOP. Adding another Republican senator increases the hurdle for Democrats to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass tax hikes and puts the GOP in a stronger position heading into next year's elections, said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar reports the San Jose Mercury News.
 . "It's a big shot in the arm," he said. "The district just sent a pretty conservative salvo across the bow of the Democratic majority." Vidak's campaign did not immediately return multiple telephone calls seeking comment. Democrats won two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers in November. That was the first time since 1933, when Republicans did it, that one party has held simultaneous supermajorities in the Assembly and Senate.

Vidak, who narrowly lost a congressional bid in 2010, had 52 percent of the vote, enough for an outright victory.

Democrats have a large registration edge in the 16th Senate District—50 percent to Republicans' 31 percent—but three Democratic candidates and a Peace and Freedom Party candidate split the left-leaning vote. That cleared the way for Vidak to win a simple majority.  
 Democrats also blamed low voter turnout in their regions coupled with a relatively high turnout in Vidak's stronghold of Kings County. Steinberg issued a statement congratulating Vidak while suggesting that Perez might make another run for higher office. Vidak will have to defend the seat in 2014. "Special elections are unique voter-turnout environments, and this is clearly not the last we've heard of the immensely talented Supervisor Perez," Steinberg said. Next year's election for a full Senate term will be under different district boundaries, drawn by the state's independent redistricting commission in 2011. The new 14th Senate District will encompass all of Kings County and parts of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties. According to the California TargetBook, current voter registration in that district is 48 percent Democratic, 31 percent Republican and 17 percent no party preference.
 "In 18 months, this will be a new race in a new district with a very different turnout model," said Jason Kinney, a political consultant for Senate Democrats. Democrats will retain their Senate supermajority despite losing the seat that had been held by Democrat Michael Rubio, of Bakersfield, who resigned in February to work for Chevron. The party still holds 28 seats in the 40-member Senate, leaving it with one more than the supermajority needed to raise taxes, pass emergency legislation, override gubernatorial vetoes and put constitutional amendments before voters without Republican support. The supermajority could be trimmed temporarily to the bare 27-member minimum because Democratic Sen. Curren Price appears poised to leave for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. Price will leave the Senate in July if his lead from Tuesday's election holds.

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