Capitol Alert

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The special election in the 54th Assembly District is guaranteed to add to Democrats' supermajority in the lower house, as all three candidates are Democrats. So the real political drama in today's primary is whether one of the three — accountant Christopher R. Armenta, real estate broker John Jake or former state Senate staffer Sebastian Ridley-Thomas — can win outright by garnering more than one-half of the vote.

Ridley-Thomas, whose father Mark Ridley-Thomas is chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and a former state legislator, has secured several high-profile endorsements, including Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. His fundraising dwarfs the other candidates.

If Ridley-Thomas doesn't seal the deal tonight, the top two finishers in the primary will face off again Feb. 4 for this Los Angeles-area seat. Columnist Dan Walters has more analysis on the impact of the race.

VIDEO: The latest report on the state of higher education in California needs more solutions, Dan Walters says.

DIMMING OUTLOOK: A new Field Poll reveals that California voters have an increasingly negative view of Pres. Barack Obama's job performance and the country's future. Although a slim majority still approve of the President's overall performance, the proportion of Californians who disapprove is up 8 percentage points since July, to 43 percent. A whopping 55 percent believe the country is seriously off on the wrong track, while only a third think it is moving in the right direction. Reporter Christopher Cadelago has a deeper dive into the numbers.

Here are the statistical tabulations provided exclusively for Capitol Alert.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner, R-Irvine, who turns 53 today.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a Worlds AIDS Day event, Monday, Dec. 2, 2103, in Washington. AP/Carolyn Kaster



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