California is on the brink today of giving Democrats the right to raise taxes without needing any votes from Republicans.
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez declared Tuesday night that Democrats had secured a supermajority in that house, and trends in the Senate were following suit this morning.
Democratic control of both houses would be historic - in the Senate, for example, the party has not held a supermajority since 1965, when Lyndon Johnson was president and Edmund G. Brown, governor.
In other ballot matters too close to call late Tuesday night:
Proposition 37, the proposal to require labeling of genetically modified foods, was defeated. It trailed by 6 percentage points this morning, with only 7 percent of precincts uncounted.
Proposition 34, to repeal the death penalty, continued to trail by a large margin early Wednesday, 6 percentage points.
Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren and Democratic challenger Ami Bera were nearly deadlocked in the 7th Congressional District race. Bera led 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, with absentee and provisional ballots left to be tallied.
Republican Bill Berryhill narrowly led Democrat Cathleen Galgiani in a San Joaquin County-based state race to represent the 5th District. The margin was 2 percentage points.
In a key Sacramento-area Assembly race that did not go down to the wire Tuesday, Democrat Ken Cooley beat Republican Peter Tateishi, Lungren's former chief of staff, by 4 percentage points.
Democratic control of both houses of the Legislature would give the party nearly complete control of California government. Gov. Jerry Brown is Democrat, as are every statewide officeholder - from treasurer to superintendent of public instruction.
To capture a legislative supermajority Tuesday, Democrats needed to gain two seats in the Senate and four in the Assembly. Last year, the party dominated the upper house by a margin of 25-15, and the Assembly by 52-28.
Democrats were leading early Wednesday in four of five key districts: Fran Pavley, by 4 percentage points, in District 27; Richard Roth, 8 percentage points, District 31; Marty Block, 14 percentage points, District 39; and Hannah-Beth Jackson, 10 percentage points, District 19.
The stage for Democratic Party gains was set last year by creation of new legislative districts, drawn for the first time by an independent state commission authorized by voters.
The new political maps resulted in a handful of open, competitive seats that Democrats targeted with millions of dollars in campaign funds.
Seizure of a supermajority in both legislative houses would give Democrats power to control not only tax measures but constitutional amendments and urgency legislation, which are bills meant to take effect immediately.
In key legislative races, Republican interest groups warned in recent months that electing more Democrats would spark higher taxes, but the argument apparently did not gain much traction.
Even if Democrats capture a legislative supermajority, they are not certain to agree among themselves about hiking state revenue. Potential obstacles include a bloc of business-friendly Democratic lawmakers and Brown's pledge while running for office not to raise taxes without a vote of the people.
Two years ago, voters gave Democrats significantly more control over another key matter, the state budget, by adopting a ballot measure authorizing such multibillion-dollar spending plans to be adopted by a majority vote of the Legislature.
Though two additional seats was the magic number for securing a bare supermajority in the Senate, Democrats were hoping to win even more seats Tuesday in order to increase their odds of maintaining such an advantage throughout the decade.
Twenty Senate seats will be up for grabs in 2014, and voter registration patterns in those districts give Republicans a prospective edge in seizing at least one seat from Democrats.