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Some Legislative Seats Could See Horse Races

More than 20 of the 100 state Senate and Assembly primary elections might be close. Term limits have opened up some contests.

February 15, 2004|Nancy Vogel | Times Staff Writer

The top two contenders are Cristi Cristich, founder of a company that supplies electronic connectors, and Chuck DeVore, a public relations manager for an aerospace firm. The two candidates have lent their campaigns tens of thousands of dollars.

* In the San Diego-based 76th Assembly District, which could swing to a Republican or a Democrat, three Democrats are competing, and the winner probably will face Republican Tricia Hunter, a nurse who served in the Assembly from 1989 to 1992.

Republicans hope the winner of the Democratic race is Vince Hall because they can tie him to Gray Davis, the ousted Democratic governor, for whom he served as a staff director. Hall moved to the district after he lost the election for the nearby 78th District in 2002 to Republican Shirley Horton.

Many Democratic lawmakers favor Heidi Von Szeliski, a partner in the political polling firm Decision Research. But Lori Saldana, a community college professor of information technology, has been endorsed by the legislature's Latino Caucus.

She has 1,000 signs stuck in yards around the city. "We're going to win this campaign on shoe leather and handshakes," Saldana said.

* One of the most expensive primary races is expected in Northern California's 11th Senate District, which includes Palo Alto and parts of San Jose. Former Assemblyman Ted Lempert, a Democrat, is pitted against Joe Simitian, now in the Assembly. Simitian had more than $700,000 on hand in mid-January, while Lempert had $553,000.

* In the Republican-leaning 29th Assembly District, which includes Fresno, Republican leaders are determined to defeat their own Mike Briggs, a former assemblyman who twice broke with his party to help pass Democratic budgets. GOP leaders prefer Mike Villines, a co-owner of a public relations firm and a former legislative staff member.

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