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Trump, gas tax debate shape California’s legislative ballot

October 6, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature, in Sacramento, Calif. All 80 state Assembly seats and half of the 40 Senate seats are up for election this year. At stake is Democrats' two-thirds supermajorities that let them raise taxes or change legislative rules without any Republican support. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — All 80 California state Assembly seats and half the 40 Senate seats are up for election this year, as voters endure whiplash over President Donald Trump, debate over higher state transportation taxes, and fallout from sexual misconduct allegations against lawmakers.

At stake in the Nov. 6 general election are Democrats’ two-thirds supermajorities that let them raise taxes or change legislative rules without any Republican support.

Here are some of the key races:

— SENATE DISTRICT 12: The biggest Senate battleground, as Republicans struggle to retain the seat being vacated by termed-out Sen. Anthony Cannella. Assemblywoman Anna Caballero of Salinas hopes to benefit from Democrats’ 18-point edge in voter registration in the Central Valley district, while Madera County Supervisor and former Madera mayor Rob Poythress aims to hold the seat for the GOP.

— SENATE DISTRICT 14: Democrats have a 19-point registered voter advantage in the Central Valley district held by Republican Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford, but he’s won the seat twice. This time he faces Democratic Sanger City Councilwoman Melissa Hurtado, who hopes to unseat him in a Trump backlash.

— SENATE DISTRICT 34: Former Democratic Assemblyman Tom Umberg hopes Democrats’ 9-point edge in voter registration will be enough to defeat GOP Sen. Janet Nguyen in the predominantly Orange County-based district.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 16: Assemblywoman Catherine Baker of Dublin is the lone Republican in the San Francisco Bay Area despite a 14-point disadvantage in voter registration. Democrats would like to change that by electing law professor Rebecca Bauer-Kahan.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 32: Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield is seeking a fourth two-year term over Republican Hanford City Councilman Justin Mendes. Democrats have a 21-point advantage in voter registration and Salas was the sole Assembly Democrat to vote against the gas tax increase, but he barely edged Mendes in the June primary election.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 35: Freshman Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo will seek to hold his Central Coast seat against Democrat Bill Ostrander, though voter registration is a virtual tossup between the two major parties.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 38: It’s a rematch for Santa Clarita residents Dante Acosta and Christy Smith in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Republican Acosta narrowly defeated Democratic school board member Smith in 2016 in a district where voter registration is virtually tied between the two major parties.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 40: Democrats hope to pick up the San Bernardino County seat being vacated by GOP Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, who barely retained the seat two years ago. Republican San Bernardino city councilman Henry Gomez Nickel led Democratic county supervisor James Ramos by 5 percentage points in the June primary election despite Democrats’ 10-point voter registration advantage.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 60: Democratic Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes of Corona is Republicans’ biggest Assembly target. Federal prosecutor Bill Essayli hopes to unseat her in part by emphasizing her vote for a gas tax increase, but Democrats lead by 8 points in voter registration in the Riverside County district.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 65: Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton won her seat in 2012, lost it to a Republican in 2014, and won again two years ago. She now faces Republican Alexandria Coronado in the Orange County district where Democrats hold an 11-point edge in voter registration, but Republicans hope to turn her gas tax vote against her.

— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 66: Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi of Manhattan Beach won his Los Angeles County seat in 2012, lost it to a Republican in 2014, and won it again two years ago. He’s now trying to hold it against Republican former Torrance mayor Frank Scotto, aided by Democrats’ 11-point voter registration advantage.

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