By John Wildermuth
Nearly a week after the midterm elections, the news keeps getting worse for California Republicans.
Democrats claimed victory Monday in two state Senate races, giving them back the two-thirds supermajority they lost in June when Orange County Democrat Josh Newman was recalled after he voted in favor of Gov. Jerry Brown's gas tax increase.
Republican leads also continued to slip in a pair of hotly contested Orange County congressional races.
In the state Senate races, Democratic Assemblywoman Anna Caballero of Salinas defeated Madera County Supervisor Rob Poythress, while Melissa Hurtado, a Sanger (Fresno County) councilwoman, beat GOP state Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford (Kings County).
Caballero won a seat left vacant when GOP state Sen. Anthony Cannella was termed out of office.
The victories give Democrats 28 seats in the 40-member Senate, one more than they needed for a supermajority. They already hold a two-thirds advantage in the Assembly, enabling them to pass virtually any legislation without Republican help.
Orange County was one of the few jurisdictions counting ballots on the Veterans Day holiday Monday, and the results were bad news for both GOP Rep. Mimi Walters of Irvine and Fullerton Republican Young Kim.
Walters saw her lead in the 45th District, which is entirely in Orange County, cut nearly in half. She now leads Democrat Katie Porter, a UC Irvine law professor, by 1,011 votes, 50.2 to 49.8 percent.
In the 39th District, which also includes parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, Kim saw her lead over Democrat Gil Cisneros slip to 1,957 votes, or 50.6 to 49.4 percent, with only Orange County results reported Monday. That's a concern for Kim and her supporters, because much of Cisneros' support comes from Los Angeles County, which has about 28 percent of the district's registered voters.
As the margin tightens, the race has gotten uglier, with each side accusing the other of interfering with election workers counting the ballots in Los Angeles County.
Patrick Mocete, Kim's campaign manager, said in an email Monday that a clear majority of voters in the district have cast their votes for Kim, a former assemblywoman.
Any results falling outside the current percentages, which give Kim her lead, he said, "could reflect foul play." He added, "We will continue observing closely to make sure the integrity of this election remains intact."
Slightly more than 300,000 votes remain to be tallied in Orange County, but it's unknown how many are in the two districts still being contested.
Democrats also are leading in a Central Valley district, where Josh Harder holds a 3,300-vote lead over GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock (Stanislaus County).
And in a surprise, Democrat T.J. Cox is closing ground on GOP Rep. David Valadao of Hanford. The contest, where Valadao declared victory after leading handily on election day, now has the two candidates separated by only 2,079 votes, 51.2 to 48.8 percent.
In the nonpartisan race for state superintendent of public instruction, Tony Thurmond, a Democratic assemblyman from Richmond, now holds a 3,800-vote edge over businessman Marshall Tuck, who had led the race since the early results were released on election day.
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