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Democrats gain 1 more seat in state Senate

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POSTED November 27, 2012 1:28 a.m.

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani has won an open seat in the state Senate, expanding the Democrats’ supermajority, while election officials announced that a special election runoff will be needed for another Senate seat.

Galgiani had been trailing Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill in the Central Valley’s 5th Senate District but overtook him as provisional ballots were counted. The Associated Press called the race for Galgiani on Monday.

Neither campaign immediately returned calls for comment.

Galgiani’s victory pads the Democrats’ supermajority in the Senate, giving them 29 seats, two more than the two-thirds threshold needed to pass tax increases and override vetoes. That will help Democrats maintain their supermajority even as two of their members — Sens. Juan Vargas of San Diego and Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino — move to Congress and leave their seats open temporarily.

Democrats have gained a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature for the first time since the 19th century. Democrats grabbed 54 seats in the 80-member Assembly for a bare two-thirds majority.

As of Monday, Galgiani had 50.4 percent of the vote compared to 49.6 percent for Berryhill, with a lead of 2,111 votes.

Although some provisional ballots remain to be counted in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Sacramento counties, there were not enough to overcome Berryhill’s deficit.

Galgiani had trailed in ballot counting since Election Day. Her campaign cast her as an independently minded Democrat who supported funding for California’s high-speed rail system and helped develop the University of California, Merced. She also promoted her support for water rights for farmers and mental health services for youth.

In Northern California’s 4th Senate district, Republican Assemblyman Jim Nielsen failed to get a majority of votes over Democrat Michael Harrington. The secretary of state’s office announced that a special runoff election will be held Jan. 8.

Despite leading by more than 83,000 votes, Nielsen received just 49.8 percent of the votes. Harrington captured 27.7 percent, with the rest spread among four other candidates.

The district includes a dozen counties stretching from the suburbs northeast of Sacramento to the Oregon border.

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