Democrat Pat Johnston has been elected to the state Senate in a special election in eight Central Valley and foothill counties, replacing state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi.
Johnston’s victory Tuesday increases the Democratic majority in the 40-seat Senate to 26, while Republicans remain at 11 with one independent and two vacancies.
The two vacancies come from the resignations during the last week of two Republicans--John Doolittle of Rocklin, who was elected to Congress, and John Seymour of Anaheim, who will succeed Gov. Pete Wilson in the U.S. Senate. Special elections to fill both of those seats are tentatively planned in March.
Johnston received 53,467 votes, compared with 35,667 for Republican Philip Wallace in final unofficial returns from the 5th Senate District. Libertarian Thomas Tryon, a Calaveras County supervisor, had 4,769 votes.
Johnston won the Democratic nomination over Garamendi’s wife, Patti, in a hard-fought Nov. 6 primary that was widely regarded as tantamount to final victory.
Johnston’s victory reduces the Democratic majority over Republicans in the Assembly to 47 to 32, with a vacancy in his 26th Assembly District which must be filled by another special election this spring. Patti Garamendi says she may run for that seat, and is regarded as the early favorite.