Democrats fell short Tuesday in their effort to pick up an additional seat in the California Senate.

The special election in Senate District 15 was called when moderate Republican Abel Maldonado was confirmed as lieutenant governor. But Democrats saw the seat as a potential pickup that would put them one vote away from the two-thirds majority needed to adopt the state budget and pass other legislation.

The Republican candidate, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, is a former Assembly minority leader. The Democrat, John Laird, was the Assembly Budget Committee chairman until term limits pushed him out of his Assembly seat in 2008.

Blakeslee won Tuesday's special election by a margin of four percentage points, with about 48% of the vote.

Each candidate had a different base in the sprawling district: Blakeslee from San Luis Obispo in the south and Laird from Santa Cruz in the north.

The two campaigns reported raising more than $3 million combined through the end of July.

"Senator-elect Blakeslee has been a fantastic member of the Assembly and I look forward to continuing to work with him in the Senate," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fellow Republican, said in a statement.

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