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Democratic legislator wins congressional seat

Assemblywoman Laura Richardson of Long Beach fills a vacancy.

August 22, 2007|John L. Mitchell | Times Staff Writer

Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) defeated candidates from three parties in Tuesday's special election to capture the 37th Congressional District seat left vacant by the death last spring of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald.

Richardson, who in less than a year has risen from the Long Beach City Council to Congress, was considered the overwhelming favorite in the largely Democratic district that encompasses Compton, Carson, much of Long Beach and parts of South Los Angeles.

Her opponents included the Green Party's Daniel A. Brezenoff, a social worker and peace activist; Libertarian Herb Peters, a retired aerospace engineer; and Republican John Kanaley, a Long Beach police officer.

Voter turnout in Tuesday's contest was lower than the 12% recorded in the special June primary in which Richardson defeated state Sen. Jenny Oropeza; Valerie McDonald, daughter of Millender-McDonald; and 15 other candidates.

At campaign stops, Richardson stressed her experience as someone who was born in Southern California, graduated from UCLA, worked as a field deputy for Millender-McDonald for two years, won a seat on the Long Beach City Council in 2000 and served until 2006, and worked for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante until she won an Assembly seat in 2006.

"We need a person who is ready to step in and perform immediately," Richardson said.

Brezenoff said he was not concerned about losing to Richardson.

"I'm here to support her and keep an eye on her," he said.

At her victory party, Richardson said she was "grateful to have had an opportunity to have worked with Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, and now I have a chance to follow in her footsteps."

She thanked the voters who had supported her candidacy.

"We had to do in 120 days what normally would havetaken two years to do" in a more traditional congressional campaign, she said.

Richardson said one of her first tasks in Congress would be ending the war in Iraq. "We need to use those resources at home," she said.

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john.mitchell@latimes.com

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