With the future of national politics uncertain, the role of the California Legislature in shaping public education policy and labor rights is more critical than ever. The work it undertakes in coming years will have a large and direct impact on members, their students, and their communities.

Educators helped secure some impressive victories. The CFT focused on 11 state legislative races and the union’s endorsed candidates were successful in five of them. Also, going into the General Election, a supermajority in both houses hung in the balance.

On the Assembly side, labor champion Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) pulled off a late victory in Assembly District 27. In another significant win, Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva, who once held Orange County’s 65th Assembly District seat but lost it in 2014, will once again represent Fullerton and surrounding cities. With Quirk-Silva’s victory, the Democrats secured a supermajority in the Assembly.

On the Senate side, CFT-endorsed candidates Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Jim Beall, (D-San Jose) and Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) won their elections. After a close contest in Orange County’s 29th Senate District, Democrat Josh Newman was declared the victor three weeks after election day. His election secured the Democratic supermajority in the Senate.

But the landscape for legislative races in California is becoming more challenging. In this year’s elections, anti-public education groups such as the California Charter School Association and EdVoice combined resources to secure support for their agenda and spent tens of millions of dollars to back Republicans and moderate Democrats in races against progressive, pro-labor, pro-public education Democrats.

Since these machinations negatively affected outcomes in some races, the CFT and its allies will continue to prioritize combating those who seek to undermine and privatize public education.

U.S. Congress: Kamala Harris takes Senate seat 

California Attorney General Kamala Harris won an historic victory in the race for a U.S. Senate seat. When she takes office next year, she will be the first Indian-American and the second black woman to serve in the upper chamber of Congress. 

The CFT lent stalwart support to Harris during her campaign. Her win was a bright spot on election night, ensuring that Californians will continue to have a progressive voice in Washington despite Republican majorities in both houses. 

In other congressional races, the California delegation maintains the status quo in party representation. Two CFT-endorsed legislators will join the House of Representatives: Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), who fills the seat vacated by Lois Capps representing the Central Coast, and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), who will represent portions of the Monterey Bay region following Sam Farr’s retirement.