California Democrats capture legislative supermajorities

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO — Democrats will have a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers of the California Legislature next year after Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang lost her bid to advance to the state Senate.

Election results released Monday showed Democrat Josh Newman narrowly defeated Chang for a Senate seat concentrated in northeastern Orange County.

Newman’s victory gives Democrats control of two-thirds of the 40 seats in the Senate — enough for them to approve tax increases, suspend legislative rules, pass emergency legislation or overturn the governor’s vetoes without any support from Republicans.

Newman is a U.S. Army veteran from Fullerton who founded a nonprofit to help veterans pursue civilian jobs following work in the entertainment and technology industries. He will replace Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, who was barred by term limits from seeking another term. …

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Should desalination play a bigger role in California’s water future?

As reported by the Los Angeles Daily News:

When it comes to finding new sources of drinking water for residents of a coastal state mired in drought, some say desalination gets little respect in Sacramento.

“Desalination should be a priority,” said Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, who introduced a bill last week that would write first-time goals into the state water code for a percentage of drinking water originating from the ocean.

Chang, who once served on the Walnut Valley Water District board, said she was inspired by Singapore and Australia, which fought their way out of extreme droughts in part by building desalination plants. Following operation last year of the $1 billion Carlsbad desalination plant in San Diego County, the Huntington Beach community is in the final stages of building a 50 million-gallon-per- day plant that may open by 2019, according to the website for Poseidon Water, project developer for both plants. …

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Ling Ling Chang Will Vie for State Senate in 2016

lingling changAssemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, has announced her campaign to replace termed-out State Senator Bob Huff.

Chang’s campaign for the 29th State Senate district sets up a showdown with former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang for a seat that Democrats see as an opportunity to reclaim their supermajority in the upper house. Her campaign came at the urging of the Senate Republican Caucus, which sees the former mayor of Diamond Bar as the strongest candidate to replace the termed-out Senate Republican leader.

On Friday morning, the Republican Assemblywoman, who has been on the job for less than six months, announced her campaign with endorsements from Huff, Rep. Ed Royce and Asm. Young Kim. With a united front behind a top-tier candidate, Republicans hope to take the 29th Senate seat off the table in 2016.

Chang: Self-Described Tech Geek

In just her first term in the State Assembly, Chang has quickly risen to the top of the freshman class. A powerhouse fundraiser, Chang raised more than $632,000 for her 2014 Assembly campaign.

That fundraising prowess helped her land a spot on Asm. GOP leader Kristin Olsen’s leadership team as Republican Whip. In addition to serving as Vice Chair of the powerful Assembly Rules Committee, Chang holds key spots on the Appropriations Committee, Business & Professions Committee and the Privacy & Consumer Protection Committee.


Her current district includes substantial portions of the 29th Senate district. Prior to representing the 55th Assembly District, she served on the Diamond Bar City Council and Walnut Valley Water District Board of Directors.

“My mom didn’t understand why a young girl would be so obsessed with computers, so she would try and prohibit me from going online. I found my way around it until my mom started removing the keyboard,” Chang told the Sacramento Bee earlier this year. “Now she completely regrets it. Technology, to me, it’s like second nature. I can actually work something without having to read the user manual.”

The self-described “tech geek” has endeared herself to her colleagues by being a team player. In advance of the 2014 general election, she contributed more than $60,000 to party committees and legislative targets, including colleagues Kim, David Hadley, Tom Lackey, Marc Steinorth, Catharine Baker and Eric Linder. However, she’s also stumbled in her first few months in the state legislature, backing a plan to bring back redevelopment that is strongly criticized by property rights advocates.

Shaw expected to withdraw from the race

Chang’s candidacy changes the dynamics of the race and likely brings to an end the short-lived candidacy of fellow Republican Tim Shaw, who currently works as an aide to Huff. A La Habra City Councilman, Shaw has struggled to raise money since announcing his campaign in February. He had yet to file a campaign finance report, according to the state’s financial disclosure database.

Sukhee KangAs a result of Shaw’s perceived weaknesses, Democrats recruited former Irvine mayor Sukhee Kang to run for the seat. During his final term as mayor of Irvine, Kang won praise from liberal Democrats for his plan to ban single-use plastic bags. That’s helped him secure early backing from prominent statewide Democrats, including Senate Pr­­esident Pro Tem Kevin de León and former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

Kang’s candidacy has its own baggage. Namely, he only recently packed his bags and moved into the district. He’s also weighed down by the ongoing audit of the Orange County Great Park. According to OC Weekly, while on the Irvine city council, in an alliance with former councilman Larry Agran and councilwoman Beth Krom, “Sukhee Kang diverted more than $174,000 per month in park funds to three political operatives — George Urch, Chris Townsend and Arnold Forde — allegedly performing ‘public relations’ for a government park that still hasn’t been built — and then shrugged their collective shoulders about why there was no money left for the noble endeavor.”

In 2012, Kang unsuccessfully challenged Rep. John Campbell for the 45th Congressional District. A first-generation Korean immigrant, Kang hoped to appeal to the district’s more than 89,000 Asian American voters in a uphill race against Shaw, a white Republican.

As the first Taiwanese-born woman to serve in the state Assembly, Chang undercuts the Democrat’s campaign strategy. According to voter registration statistics from Political Data, Inc., there are approximately 10,000 more registered voters with Chinese surnames than Korean surnames. Voters in the 29th Senate district have requested nearly twice as many Chinese language ballots than Korean ballots.

Kang’s campaign adviser Garry South seemed unfazed by Chang’s announcement. “See ya in a presidential year!” he said, welcoming the news.

Republicans hold a 3.5 percent edge in voter registration, with 37.3 percent of all registered voters in the district, according The district’s high overall registration rate makes it difficult for Democrats to invest in a registration program to close that gap. The GOP has 15,000 more voters than Democrats. Orange County makes up more than 70 percent of the 29th State Senate district, which also includes portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. In 2012, Huff retained the seat with 55.1 percent of the vote, after spending minimal funds on his reelection campaign.

Under the state’s revised term limits law, Chang is eligible to serve two terms in the State Senate as well as one additional term in the State Assembly.

Assembly GOP Leader Kristin Olsen Introduces New Stars


Ling and Young2014 was a solid year for California Republicans. In the state Senate, the GOP prevented Democrats from regaining a two-thirds supermajority.

And in the Assembly, Republicans defeated three Democratic incumbents, which also reversed a Democratic supermajority.

“We unseated sitting Democrats for the first time in 20 years because Californians want positive change and because we had great, hard-working candidates on the ballot this year, candidates who are connected with their communities and know the challenges facing people in their districts,” newly elected Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen told “They were more diverse than ever – in gender, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic upbringing and background.”

Is the GOP changing? In the Assembly, women make up a greater share of the Republican caucus than the Democratic caucus. Although Democrats hold nearly a two-thirds majority in the lower house, there are nearly as many Republican women (seven) as there are Democratic women (currently 10; or 11 if Patty Lopez defeats Raul Bocanegra in AD 39 in a tight race — Lopez currently leads by seven votes; both are Democrats).

The Friday following the election, Olsen introduced to the Sacramento press the three most talked about new members of her caucus — each of whom has a major achievement by virtue of her election. Catharine Baker is the first Republican to win a Bay Area legislative seat in years. Ling-Ling Chang is the first Taiwanese-American Republican woman to join the Assembly. And Young Kim is the first Korean-American Republican elected to the lower house.

Young Kim: First Korean American GOP woman elected to State Assembly

Kim’s election was significant for the Korean-American community and Republicans’ efforts to court Asian-American voters. Kim’s victory, which was front page news in Korean-language newspapers, resonated in Orange County’s  Koreatown and the much larger Koreatown in Los Angeles.
“In particular, the election of Young Kim is being evaluated as a political upset by even the mainstream community,” the Korea Times noted. “In politics, there is a huge advantage of being an incumbent. The probability of a first-time candidate to win over an incumbent is almost impossible. However, Young Kim was able to overcome difficult obstacles and disadvantages and win.”

For the next two years, you can expect Kim to be an almost daily fixture in the Korean-language newspapers, where she’ll be talking about lowering taxes and improving California’s business climate.

“Now that we’ve broken the Democrats’ supermajority in both houses, taxpayers can sleep a little better at night knowing that Proposition 13 is safe, at least for the next two years,” Kim told, referencing the 1978 tax-limitation initiative.

She says she’ll focus on creating a business-friendly environment to help spur job creation in California as well as keeping our communities safe by putting a focus on public safety.

Fast-track to GOP leadership: Ling-Ling Chang

If there’s one freshman Republican on the fast-track to leadership, it’s Chang. She’s a smart, articulate assemblywoman-elect with impressive fundraising at a time when Republicans are serious about re-branding the party.

It’d be a no-brainer for Chang to land a spot on the Assembly Health Committee, one of the most coveted assignments in the lower house. An expert on public health, Chang has experience in both the non-profit and for-profit side of health care. She’s worked in the corporate sector training physicians and medical staff at various hospitals across Southern California.

jay obernolteWith a spot on a juice committee, Chang would boost her already robust fundraising, which aided GOP targets in November. In the final two months of the campaign, Chang contributed more than $60,000 to party committees and legislative targets, including colleagues Kim, David Hadley, Tom Lackey, Marc Steinorth, Catharine Baker and Eric Linder.

When asked her about the incoming GOP class, she quickly focused the spotlight on her colleagues. One colleague, who is getting buzz as an expert in technology, is Jay Obernolte, a fellow Southern California Republican freshman.

“Jay is one of the smartest, most technologically savvy individuals I know,” Chang told us when we asked about the new freshmen class. “His experience as a software and video game developer and business owner will bring a cutting edge perspective for Republicans to the issues facing California.”

Obernolte, the mayor of Big Bear Lake, founded FarSight Studios, a successful video game company that makes “family videogames for the PlayStation3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Apple iPhone, and the PC.” For a caucus looking to make inroads with Silicon Valley, who better than a video-gaming geek who graduated from UCLA and CalTech?

Catharine Baker: Lone GOP voice in Bay Area

Republicans also benefit from Baker’s representation of the Bay Area. For years, Republicans have been without any state or federal elected officials in the region. An attorney from Pleasanton, Baker becomes the most prominent Republican official for hundreds of miles in the Bay Area.

In practical terms, that’s a very big deal. It means she’ll be sending out field representatives to PTA meetings, distributing certificates at chamber breakfasts and fielding constituent calls to help with the DMV– all the boring things that win elections.

“Voters sent a message on Election Day that the culture of corruption and one-party rule in the Legislature is unacceptable and not healthy for our state,” Olsen said.

She added, “Now, our Assembly Republican Caucus will take the responsibility voters have given us and work hard together to put California on a better path for ALL Californians in each and every neighborhood.”

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