Last month, I discussed the importance of Californians not allowing a Democratic super-majority. Well, with all votes now counted in California, Democrats have won the super-majority in both chambers.
Republicans Eric Linder, David Hadley, and Young Kim lost re-elections in the Assembly giving Democrats 55 seats. In the Senate, Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang lost a bid for a Republican-held open State Senate seat, giving the Democrats the one seat they needed to win the super-majority in that chamber. All of these Republicans had serious headwinds with Trump heading toward a statewide defeat of history-making margins. President-elect Trump’s California margin is the second worst Republican defeat in the state’s Presidential history and his vote share is the third smallest for a Republican in the state.
But Republicans can’t solely blame their super-minority status on President-elect Trump. It was no secret that he’d lose California and by wide margins; while many of the losing candidates above did distance themselves from Trump and his national campaign, the state party did very little to magnify that distance. In fact, the state party was literally front-and-center at the RNC in Cleveland.
Last month, I also stated that California Republicans needed to realize that their flirtation with super-minority status has more to do with their actions (and inactions) than that of the Democrats. California Democrats will always have more resources and will typically be on the winning side of public opinion, but those are excuses for Republican failure, not reasons. Just ask Catharine Baker, who despite being out-spent and representing a decidedly anti-Trump district won re-election — by a larger margin than her 2014 initial victory. Or look to San Diego and Orange counties where, despite Clinton winning easily county-wide, Republicans hold 100% of the County Supervisor seats.
Republicans have failed, repeatedly, to adapt to the new California and make a compelling case to Californians for why they have better ideas. In a two-party system, both parties must be as broad and big as possible. That’s math. That’s reality. Californians are not buying what the California Republican Party is trying to sell. It is time to adapt to the marketplace. Unless the party expands its appeal, the current situation will be the norm, not the exception (or worse, go the way of the Hawaii Republican Party, which holds 0 State Senate seats and just 6 State House seats).
Use the super-minority to go big, go bold. Your legislation won’t pass. But by crafting defining reforms on education, government transparency, environment and energy and water, taxes, public pensions, and housing affordability, Republicans can start to showcase that they do have answers to many of the problems Californians consider important. Until then, California Republicans will be the Party of Trump and regardless of how his presidency goes, that will not be a party Californians will support.