After a year-and-a-half delay, Ling Ling Chang appeared poised to move into the California Senate, following one of the rarest of political renditions, which consisted of voters in the 29th Senatorial District removing Josh Newman from office on Tuesday. Tuesday’s denouement follows by 19 months Newman’s nearly-as-unlikely election to the position in the State Senate.
Chang, a Republican, former Diamond Bar councilwoman and then-incumbent one-term Assembly member representing the 55th District, opted in 2016 to leave the state’s lower legislative house before she was obliged to do so because of term limits to seek to replace Bob Huff, who had been termed out of the California Senate. She appeared to be the front-runner in the 2016 race. The 29th Assembly District, which overlays the southwestern tip of San Bernardino County, southeastern Los Angeles County and Northeastern Orange County is an historically Republican bastion. Nevertheless, the Democrats in 2016 were gunning to reestablish a two-thirds majority in the State Senate and spent heavily in an effort to get Newman elected. In the early returns following the November 8, 2016 election, Chang was ahead, but as provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots were counted, Newman overtook her and his victory was certified with 159,977 votes, or 50.4 percent, to Chang’s 157,509, or 49.6 percent.
Newman made the misstep, however, of voting last year in support of Senate Bill 1, which increased gas and diesel taxes and raised DMV registration fees in California. Though he defended that vote by asserting the state’s transportation infrastructure has been underfunded for years and Senate Bill 1 would fund $52-billion worth of road, highway and bridge repairs and maintenance, he was attacked by Republicans, their operatives and media personalities for having raised taxes, which they likened to a high crime and misdemeanor, or a heretical betrayal of the values of the residents of the 29th District.
Once the recall effort was under way, six candidates – three Republicans and three Democrats – ran as alternatives to Newman should the recall succeed.
Yesterday, Thursday June 7, the California Secretary of State posted semiofficial results, showing 59.5% of those voting favored recalling Newman. Chang was the top finisher among the six replacement candidates, gathering 34.2% of the vote.
“None of this shakes my faith in California or in the fundamental capacity of politics to serve as a platform for doing good and serving the people,” Newman said.
“This ends the Democrats supermajority in the Senate, so I am pleased,” said Chang.
It is anticipated Chang will take her place on the Senate Floor upon the certification of the election in early July.