- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California was more of an outlier than ever on Election Day, with Democrats and liberal-leaning ballot measures winning while much of the rest of the country was electing Donald Trump to the presidency.

Kamala Harris easily defeated fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez for a seat in the U.S. Senate, where she vowed to fight the Trump tide and the Republican Senate Majority.

Hillary Clinton also won big in California, extending the streak of Democratic wins to seven despite a losing effort nationally.

Propositions that passed include legalizing recreational marijuana, keeping taxes high on the wealthy and making it easier for the state to reduce the prison population.

Many of the state’s 17 ballot measures remained too close to call, as did many of its key races for the House and for the Legislature, where Democrats are looking to expand majorities.

SENATE RACE

Harris, California’s Attorney General, coasted into the seat vacated by the retirement of Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, taking 65 percent of 4.2 million votes against Sanchez, a congresswoman from Orange County.

But she said she’d be anything but complacent in Washington, declaring in her victory speech that she would not retreat but fight “for who we are and our ideals.”

Harris, 52, becomes the first Indian woman elected to the Senate, and the second black woman.

It was the first time since voters started electing senators a century ago that Republicans were absent from the general election ballot under California’s reorganized primary system.

BALLOT QUESTIONS

Recreational pot won the most decisive victory among the state’s whopping 17 statewide ballot measures, with many still to be decided. The win for Proposition 64 meant the biggest victory yet for the movement to decriminalize marijuana, making the drug fully legal in the most populous state in the nation.

Measures still to be decided include:

- Dueling death-penalty measures: Californians are leaning toward reforming the states broken death penalty rather than getting rid of it. Proposition 66, which would speed up capital punishment, was leading with a narrow 51 percent of the vote. Proposition 62, which would abolish it, had 54 percent voting no.

- Proposition 61, a ballot measure that would cap how much the state spends on prescription medications for millions of people, was trailing, with 54 percent voting no.

- A ballot measure requiring actors to use condoms in porn movies filmed in California was also losing with a 54 percent no vote.

Other initiatives that passed included $9 billion in state bonds for school and community college construction projects; a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes; the extension of higher taxes on the wealthy; a measure giving California prison officials more say about when they can release inmates and expansion of some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws.

CONGRESS AND LEGISLATURE

Democrats sought to use opposition to Donald Trump to build on their commanding lead in the nation’s largest congressional delegation. Many key races remained too close to call.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the highest-profile members of Congress, was in the toughest fight of his political career as California Democrats hold a 39-14 advantage in the state and eyed a handful of Republican seats for pickups, including Issa’s in the San Diego area. Two other vulnerable Republicans, Steve Knight and Jeff Denham, had leads.

In the Silicon Valley, Ro Khanna, a former U.S. Commerce Department official under President Barack Obama, defeated eight-term incumbent Mike Honda, who is mired in an ethics investigation. On California’s Central Coast, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal prevailed over Republican businessman Justin Fareed.

In the state Legislature, Democrats sought to regain supermajorities in the Assembly and Senate, which would allow them to govern without Republicans. The outcome of several Democrat vs. Democrat races will also help determine just how liberal the next Legislature is.

Republican candidates for the state Legislature took early leads in most of the contested districts clustered in Orange County and the outer suburbs of Los Angeles and San Francisco.


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