Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sacramento Bee has an interesting story about the internal politicking to succeed Fabian Nunez as speaker of the California Assembly. No clear frontrunner, in contrast to Senate Democrats, who've already tapped Darrell Steinberg.
Bee columnist Dan Walters suggests that the continuing force of term limits in California will mean a change not only in leadership but in the size of the Democratic majorities:
Two of the termed-out Republicans, Bonnie Garcia of Cathedral City and Shirley Horton of San Diego, hold seats that were designated for Democrats in the bipartisan gerrymandering of districts in 2001 but went Republican in 2002. Both districts, however, have retained their Democratic edges in voter registration and could easily change parties.
The other vulnerable GOP seats are now held by Guy Houston of San Ramon and Greg Aghazarian of Stockton. Their adjacent, commuter-heavy districts were designated for the GOP in 2001 but are now virtually tied in voter registration and could also shift to the Democrats.
On the flip side, one of the 12 Democrat-held seats being vacated this year due to term limits, that of Nicole Parra of Hanford, could go Republican. Parra is engaged in a long-running political feud with Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, whose mother, Fran, is running for Parra's seat. Parra has virtually endorsed the likely Republican candidate, Danny Gilmore. But Democrats still have an eight-point registration advantage.
Losing four seats and gaining one would drop Republicans to 29 seats in the 80-member Assembly, but still leave Democrats three votes shy of the two-thirds needed on critical budget and taxation issues.
Democrats could gain a two-thirds dominance in the 40-member Senate, however, if a recall being mounted by Perata against Republican Sen. Jeff Denham of Atwater succeeds and if the GOP loses the district now represented by termed-out Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks, whose GOP voter registration edge has been shrinking.
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