SACRAMENTO — Democrats kept their majorities in the Legislature on Tuesday, giving them the chance to redraw district lines next year to keep control well into the future.
Republicans had been hopeful of cutting into those Democratic advantages, but Democrats said they could actually increase their strength.
“We will pick up some seats,” said Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. “We’ll be at least at 48 and could be as good as 50.”
Assembly Minority Leader Scott Baugh, R-Huntington Beach, said the best the GOP could hope for was a gain of three seats in his house.
In the Senate, President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, predicted that Democrats would win at least 25 seats and could end up with 26, a forecast Minority Leader Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga, agreed with.
Going into the election, Democrats held 25 of the Senate’s 40 seats and 46 of the Assembly’s 80 seats.
The GOP had 15 seats in the Senate and 32 in the Assembly. One Assembly seat was vacant and one was held by independent Audie Bock of Piedmont.
The Democratic victories mean they will be able to pass redistricting plans next year seeking to solidify or even expand their edges in the Legislature and win more congressional seats, though the plans would likely face a challenge in court or on the ballot from Republicans.
Democrats picked up one seat when Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan defeated Bock, a former Green Party member who stunned the Democratic establishment when she won the Oakland area seat in a special election last year.
With nearly half of the vote counted, Chan was leading 67 percent to 21 percent.
Key Senate races included a battle between Sen. Richard Rainey, R-Walnut Creek, and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Martinez, that could come close to beating the two-candidate spending record of $6.37 million.
With 55 percent of the precincts reporting, Torlakson was leading 55 percent to 43 percent. Burton predicted Torlakson would win.
Sacramento-Stockton area Senate race between Assemblyman Mike Machado, D-Linden, and Lodi City Councilman Alan Nakanishi could also top $6 million.
That race was one of the tightest of the night, with Machado leading by less than 900 votes with nearly 60 percent of the vote counted.
In the Assembly, Republican Dennis Yates, a Chico city councilman, led Democrat Gloria McLeod, a community college board member, 56 percent to 41 percent for a vacant Pomona area seat.
Democrat Nell Soto, D-Pomona, gave up the seat earlier this year after winning a special state Senate election.
The Legislature this fall saw more million-dollar races than ever, fueled in part by redistricting.
Lawmakers are required to redraw legislative and congressional districts every 10 years to reflect population changes revealed by the new federal census.
If one party controls both houses of the Legislature and holds the governor’s office, it can use redistricting next year to pack as many of the opposing party’s voters into as few districts as possible.