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Gil Cisneros defeated Republican Young Kim on Saturday in the last of Orange County’s undecided House races, giving Democrats a clean sweep of the state’s six most fiercely fought congressional contests and marking an epochal shift in a region long synonymous with political conservatism.

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Tony Thurmond, a Bay Area assemblyman, was elected to serve as California's next superintendent of public instruction.
Tony Thurmond, a Bay Area assemblyman, was elected to serve as California's next superintendent of public instruction. (Los Angeles Times)

Tony Thurmond, a Bay Area Democrat who served in the state Assembly and as a local school board member, declared victory on Saturday in the bitterly contested and expensive race for California superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond’s opponent, charter school executive Marshall Tuck, conceded the race after several days of late vote counting continued to widen the gap between the two candidates. Tuck had been ahead in early returns on election night but lost the lead last weekend.

“I want to thank the voters of California for electing me to serve the 6 million students of California,” Thurmond said in a written statement. “I intend to be a champion of public schools and a Superintendent for all California students.”

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For a party in freefall the last two decades, California Republicans learned that it's possible to plunge even further.

  • California Republicans

Travis Allen, a Huntington Beach assemblyman who unsuccessfully ran for California governor, announced Thursday he is running for chairman of the state Republican Party.

Allen is a strong supporter of President Trump and a favorite of tea party Republicans. He blamed the wave of GOP losses in last week’s midterm election on a party establishment that failed to embrace core conservative ideals. 

Four incumbent Republicans in California’s congressional delegation lost in the Nov. 6 election, with two more in Orange County possibly facing a similar fate as late ballots are counted. Democrats also captured a supermajority in the California Legislature, and no Republican has won a statewide political office since 2006.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Rep. Mimi Walters thanks all of her supporters as she watches election results in Irvine, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.
Rep. Mimi Walters thanks all of her supporters as she watches election results in Irvine, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (Alex Gallardo / AP Photo)

Democrat Katie Porter opened a 3,797-vote lead Wednesday over Republican Rep. Mimi Walters in Orange County’s 45th Congressional District.

In the neighboring 39th, Democrat Gil Cisneros has nearly tied the race against Republican Young Kim. Cisneros now trails Kim by a razor-thin margin of 122 votes.

The 39th District straddles Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties; Wednesday’s updated ballot counts came from the latter two.

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  • State government
(Mathew Sumner / Associated Press)

The amount of money collected by the state from taxes on cannabis grown and sold legally in California continues to increase but is still falling short of budget estimates, according to figures released Wednesday.

Tax revenue reported from the cannabis industry totaled $93.1 million for the three months ending Sept. 30, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. That is an increase from the $80.2 million collected during the second quarter of the year.

If revenue continues to grow by the same 16% per quarter, pot taxes will bring in $471 million during the fiscal year that began July 1, while the budget approved by the governor and Legislature estimates the taxes would bring in $630 million during the fiscal year.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

California’s six-year run of growing tax revenue to pay for government services is expected to continue through at least the summer of 2020, according to an analysis released Wednesday, with enough cash to fund a budget reserve of $29.5 billion.

The report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office is perhaps the most emphatic sign so far of how much the state’s near-term financial condition has improved since the end of the last recession. Where there were once repeated predictions of operating deficits, analysts now expect a $14.8-billion surplus over the next 20 months — on top of a $14.5-billion rainy-day fund and a $200-million contingency fund for social services programs.

“It is difficult to overstate how good the budget’s condition is today,” analysts wrote in Wednesday’s annual fiscal outlook. “By historical standards, this surplus is extraordinary.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom talk with reporters after their meeting at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom talk with reporters after their meeting at the state Capitol on Tuesday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

With all eyes on California’s next leader, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom took a moment Tuesday to remind everyone that Gov. Jerry Brown is still calling the shots.

“There’s only one governor at a time and I think that’s important to reinforce particularly at this moment with so much anxiety around these fires,” Newsom said, standing next to Brown outside the governor’s office. “I want to reinforce that and I want to be respectful of the governor.” 

The two men spoke to reporters about wildfires ravaging the state and the transition to a new administration after meeting privately at the state Capitol.

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California Democrats cemented supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature on Monday, giving Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom more partisan allies in the state Senate and Assembly when he takes office in January.

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
Antonio Villaraigosa attends service at Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City in June.
Antonio Villaraigosa attends service at Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City in June. (Kent Nishimura)

Former Los Angeles mayor and California gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa is joining the firm Mercury, an influential national public affairs firm.

Villaraigosa said he will be based in the firm’s Los Angeles office but will be traveling the country and the globe advising companies and other Mercury clients. He will not work as a lobbyist, he said.

“It’s an opportunity to stay involved in public policy but also an opportunity for me to grow,” Villaraigosa told The Times on Monday.