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Legislative races

There will be fewer women in California's Legislature in 2017, but number of Latina members grows

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) is chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) is chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Several legislative races are still too close to be called, but leaders of the California Legislative Women's Caucus say they expect to lose two seats each in the state Assembly and the Senate.

If the trend in the closest races holds, women will hold 10 of 40 seats in the state Senate, and 17 of 80 positions in the Assembly, according to California Women Lead, a nonpartisan association that recruits and trains women to run for public office.

More than a third of the Legislature's 30 female members are leaving at the end of the year due to term limits or personal reasons, which has contributed to stagnating numbers of female elected officials in California.

"It was a really big deal that we were able to fill that void," said Caucus Vice Chair Cristina Garcia. 

The Democrats of the Women's Caucus say they're also encouraged by the fact that its party's roster of Latina legislators will grow from five to 10, and that the number of Democratic women in the Assembly is likely to increase from 11 to 14. 

Among the new Latinas to be sworn in next month will be Monique Limon, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Ana Caballero, Eloise Reyes and Blanca Rubio, according to unofficial results.

Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar), who is still locked in a tight race against Democrat Josh Newman for state Senate, would be the only Republican woman elected to a new position if she prevails after final votes are counted.

Garcia said following Tuesday's election, she and other caucus leaders have already discussed how to make gains for women in the Legislature in 2018 and beyond. "We have a long way to go," Garcia said. "I'd like us to be at least 50% of the Democratic Party [caucus], so we're just focused on the work ahead."

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