- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - On a historic night for Donald Trump and Republicans, California went its own way.

The nation’s most populous state reaffirmed its standing Tuesday as a Democratic fortress, delivering a landslide win for Hillary Clinton in her losing White House run while extending an income tax on the wealthy, reviving bilingual education in schools, raising tobacco taxes and legalizing marijuana.

Kamala Harris capped a lopsided campaign for U.S. Senate, in which she easily outdistanced another Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Speaking to supporters in Los Angeles, Harris struck a defiant tone on a night when Trump claimed the White House and Republicans clinched control of the House and were on track to hold the Senate.

She promised to “fight for who we are” at a time when “we have been attacked, and our ideals and fundamental values are being attacked.”

“Do we retreat, or do we fight?” asked Harris, the state attorney general. “I say we fight. And I intend to fight.”

In the presidential race, California turned its back on Trump as it has on successive GOP candidates since 1992, when Bill Clinton carried the state. With 5.9 million votes tallied, Clinton had 60 percent of the vote, to 34 percent for Trump.

Republican registration has been fading in the state for years, and independents are on track to soon eclipse the GOP in numbers.

The influence of a new wave on younger, mostly Democratic voters could be seen in the vote to embrace legal pot. An exit poll conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research found Democrats supported Proposition 64 by a 2-1 margin, while Republican voters opposed it by 2-1. The strongest supporters were voters under 40.

The strongly Democratic state also ushered in a new round of taxes, including a $2-a-pack jump for cigarettes.

Also approved by a wide margin, Proposition 55 extends until 2030 higher income taxes on upper-income earners that voters first approved in 2012 as a response to deep education cuts during the Great Recession.

Those increases were set to expire two years from now. Instead, voters decided 62 percent to 38 percent to keep them.

In the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, it was the first time since voters started electing senators a century ago that Republicans were absent from California’s general election ballot, reaffirming the GOP’s fading influence in the state. Democrats control every statewide office and both chambers of the Legislature.

Harris, 52, becomes the first Indian woman elected to the Senate, and the second black woman. Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun was elected in 1992 and served one term. Harris, a lifelong prosecutor, is the daughter of parents from India and Jamaica.

The exit poll found Harris with an edge in nearly all demographic groups. The two were about evenly splitting the Hispanic vote, even though Sanchez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, had made overt appeals for Latino support.

Harris never trailed in polls or fundraising and was the consensus pick of the Democratic establishment. She was endorsed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Jerry Brown, Boxer and her soon-to-be Senate colleague from California - Dianne Feinstein.

Harris and Sanchez emerged from a 34-candidate primary in June, in which only the top two vote-getters advanced to November. None of the Republicans managed to break out of single digits in voting.

Their rivalry revolved around who was best suited for the job - a veteran prosecutor with liberal credentials who touted her experience fighting big banks and environmental criminals, or a 10-term member of the House who positioned herself as a moderate, with experience in national security and military affairs.

The Senate contest marks a generational and demographic shift in the state that is growing increasingly diverse in population and favorable for Democrats.

Boxer, who is white and turns 76 this week, will be replaced by a Baby Boomer.

The matchup between Harris and Sanchez is seen as a harbinger of things to come. California Voters could increasingly find only two Democrats to pick from for top offices in November elections.

Meanwhile, Democrats were looking to add to their 39-14 advantage in California’s congressional delegation, with Darrell Issa from the San Diego-area 49th District the most prominent GOP target. Issa had a narrow edge in incomplete returns against Democrat Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel.

The exit poll of 2,469 voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 30 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 744 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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