A record number of women candidates won their Congressional races in California, increasing women’s representation to 31% of the 52-seat California Congressional delegation. Senator Dianne Feinstein easily won re-election to the U.S. Senate, beating Representative Tom Campbell by 56.1% to 36.4%.
Women figured prominently in the gains Democrats registered in the California Congressional delegation – accounting for 3 of the 5 seats wrested from Republicans. A total of 16 women won House seats in California. Former Representative Jane Harman won her bid to regain the seat in Congress (District 36) she gave up two years ago to run for Governor, beating incumbent Steve Kuykendall (R) in a very close race (by a margin of only 3,800 votes out of more than 220,000 votes cast). State Senator Hilda Solis beat incumbent Representative Marty Martinez in the Democratic primary (District 31), and easily won the general. Martinez switched parties to become a Republican after losing the primary. State Assemblywoman Susan Davis beat incumbent Brian Bilbray (R) in another very close race in Congressional District 49.
Women picked up five new seats in the State Assembly, increasing from 25% to 31% of the lower house of California. Barbara Matthews (D), Rebecca Cohn (D), Fran Pavley (D), Los Angeles City Councilmember Jackie Goldberg (D), Jenny Oropeza (D), Gloria Negrete McLeod (D), Janice Leja (R), Lynn Daucher (R), and Christine Kehoe (D) all won their races for open seats created by term limitations. Carol Liu (D) beat the former spokesperson for the California Right to Life Committee Susan Carpenter McMillan (R) for an open seat. Wilma Chan (D) beat incumbent Audie Elizabeth Bock (I) who won her seat as a Green party candidate two years ago before switching to Independent.
Sheila James Kuehl (D) won her bid for an open seat in the State Senate, and two incumbents won their re-election races to guarantee women 22.5% of the Senate seats. Nevertheless, because of the loss of two other women Senators to term limits, women suffered a net loss of one in the state Senate.