What can Hunters Expect in California? November 2018 Election

With the new California State Legislature convening for the 2019 Session this coming Monday, January 7th, 2019, it’s time to recap the results of the recent November 2018 California State Election, and how it may impact those who care about the future of wildlife conservation and hunting in California may expect over the coming two years.

CALIFORNIA STATE ELECTION BRIEF – NOVEMBER 2018

Whether you are paying close attention or not, what takes place under the dome of California’s State Capitol has a tremendous impact on nearly every aspect of your life. To begin, to lay some foundation for those who may be confused by California’s complicated political process. First, let’s look at how our State Legislature is built and how it works, followed by the results of last November’s election and how they may impact hunting, shooting and wildlife conservation in our state.

CALIFORNIA STATE LEGISLATURE – HOW IT’S BUILT

The California State Legislature is a bicameral body consisting of the California State Assembly with 80 members, and the California State Senate with 40 members. Members of the State Assembly serve two- year terms, while members of the State Senate serve four-year terms. In short, all 80 State Assembly seats are up for election every two years, while 20 State Senate seats are up for election at each two- year election cycle. Making things even more interesting, under Proposition 14 – which passed on the June 2010 general ballot – statewide and congressional candidates in California, regardless of party

preference, participate in the nonpartisan “blanket primary”. After each June primary, the top two candidates – regardless of party affiliation – advance to the November general election.

Finally, just to make things even more confusing, the California’s State Legislature has “term limits” – initially established in 1990 following the passage of Proposition 140. Proposition 140 limited Legislators to three terms in the State Assembly and two terms in the State Senate. In June 2012, California voters approved Proposition 28 which allows Legislators to serve a maximum of 12 years without regard to whether the years are served in the State Assembly or the State Senate. Legislators first elected on or before June 2012 are restricted by the previous term limits called out by Proposition 140. With term limits eliminating long-serving incumbents from the ballot, each California State election proves to be interesting, with many seats up for grabs and much at stake. The November 2018 State election was no exception.

CALIFORNIA STATE ELECTION – NOVEMBER 2018

When it comes to issues of importance to California’s wildlife conservation, hunting and shooting community, does it really matter which political party is in control at our State Capitol? Frankly, it does. To begin, let me make it perfectly clear that there many Democrats that strongly support our outdoor traditions, and who are active hunters, shooters and anglers. But the Democratic Party has historically been the party least supportive of hunting and our Second Amendment rights. Why? Because, in many cases, it is the Democratic Party that represents California’s urban legislative districts – constituencies that largely do not hunt or shoot, and which have had little exposure to hunters, hunting, our critical role in wildlife conservation, or the important positive impact we have on our state’s economy.

Residents of these urban areas elect representatives that reflect their values and often share their misunderstandings of our outdoor activities.

As California’s landscape becomes increasingly urban and our State Legislature made up of increasingly urban districts, the future of hunting and shooting in our state is facing a steep uphill battle. Six years ago, in the November 2012 election, Democrats captured two-thirds of the seats of our State Senate and State Assembly – giving them a legislative “supermajority” and the power to raise taxes, override legislative rules and pass emergency legislation, and/or place constitutional amendments on the ballot without a single Republican vote. Two years later, however, when the dust settled on the November 2014 election, the Democratic Party had narrowly lost its supermajority in both houses. Fast forward to November 2016, although conservatives scored big wins on Capitol Hill and in state races nationwide, California was – no surprise – different. Two years ago, after the dust settled and all the votes were cast and counted, Democrats had netted back enough seats in the State Assembly to recoup their supermajority, while falling only one seat short in the State Senate. So, did the Republican Party net enough seats this past November to avoid a Democratic supermajority in either or both houses in the upcoming 2019/2020 State Legislative Session? Let’s see….

State Assembly

In the State Assembly, 54 seats are needed to hold a supermajority. Heading into the November 2018 election, the Democratic Party narrowly held a supermajority with 55 seats in the Assembly, compared – to the Republican Party holding 25. On November 6th, all 80 Assembly seats were up for grabs. With California’s “blanket primary”, all 80 districts had a Democrat in the race, while 15 districts did not have a Republican or an “Other” party represented on the ballot.

When all the votes were counted, and some recounted and recounted again, Assembly Democrats had grabbed five more State Assembly seats – strengthening their supermajority by now holding a whopping 60 Assembly seats to the Republicans 20. Races of note included Republican incumbents losing their bid for re-election in three districts – Assembly Member Catharine Baker in District 16 (Dublin), Assembly Member Dante Acosta in District 38 (Santa Clarita) and Assembly Member Matthew Harper in District 74 (Huntington Beach).

State Senate

In California’s State Senate, a party needs to control 27 seats to hold a two-thirds supermajority.  Leading up to the November 2018 election, the Democratic Party narrowly missed having a supermajority by holding 26 of the State Senate’s 40 seats, with the Republican Party holding 14. Due to the “blanket primary”, four of the 20 total Senate seats up for grabs did not have a Republican or an “Other” party in the race, while all the seats up for election had at least one Democrat in the race.

When the dust settled on the Election Day 2018, the Democratic Party had picked up three more seats, giving them 29 State Senate seats to the Republicans 11 – easily re-establishing their supermajority.

Races of note include Republican incumbent Senator Andy Vidak losing his seat in District 14 (Southern Central Valley) and Republican incumbent Senator Janet Nguyen losing her bid for re-election in District 34 (Santa Ana).

SUMMARY – WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? Re-securing a strong two-thirds supermajority in both chambers, while also maintaining all statewide elected offices, will keep the Democratic Party in complete control of California’s policy decisions for the next two years. But, will it make a notable difference on policy associated with wildlife conservation, hunting and/or sporting arms?

Looking back to the recent past, in the 2017/2018 Legislative Session, the Democrats held a supermajority in the Assembly and a near supermajority in the Senate. They also controlled the

Governor’s office. In the upcoming 2019/2020 Session, the Democrats will have a stronger hold on both houses and arguably the most liberal Governor in state history. In short, the results of the November 2018 election could make the next two years the most challenging ever in the halls of our State Capitol for those who seek a strong future for wildlife conservation, hunting and shooting in California. We have our work cut out for us.

What can we do? Gaines & Associates will continue to canvas every corner of every political forum of importance in our state to provide our clients with real-time updates on pending policy decisions of concern – along with the information you need to have your voice heard to help make a difference.

Among other things, during the 2019/2020 Legislative Session – with the help of our partners and you – we will continue to educate both new and experienced urban Legislators of the importance of science- based wildlife management, the critical lead role of hunting in wildlife conservation and the importance of our Second Amendment.  To that end, Gaines & Associates will again play an important role in building the size and breadth of the California Legislature Outdoor Sporting Caucus – a bipartisan, bicameral assemblage of State Legislators who support policy decisions which embrace and promote California’s outdoor traditions. In close coordination with our clients and partner organizations, Gaines & Associates will again work with Caucus leadership to hold events and forums which educate, focus and coordinate the State Legislature’s support of California’s wildlife and fishery resources, and the outdoor- related activities that depend upon them.

For more information on any district race of California State Election 2018, please contact Gaines & Associates at info@gainesandassociates.net


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