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Runoff appears likely in 26th California State Senate race

March 25, 2009|Jean Merl

Democratic Assemblyman Curren Price Jr. was leading a field of eight candidates in Tuesday's special election for the vacant 26th State Senate District seat but in early returns was falling short of the majority vote needed to avoid a runoff.

With just absentee ballots and 17 of 354 precincts counted Tuesday night, Price was leading with 30% of the vote.

The strongly bankrolled Price would likely face Nachum Shifren, a Republican, and Cindy Varela Henderson, of the Peace and Freedom Party, in a May 19 runoff in the heavily Democratic district. Tuesday's primary attracted five other Democrats, including Assemblyman Mike Davis of Los Angeles and financial analyst Jonathan Friedman, who raised a significant sum of money for the race.

Price, who recently moved into the district from Inglewood to be eligible in the race and was widely considered the favorite to win the seat, raised substantially more money than any of his competitors and benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars independently spent by business groups and labor unions in support of his candidacy. He also was endorsed by several elected officials from the area.

The 26th District includes West Hollywood, Silver Lake, Larchmont, several communities on Los Angeles' Westside, parts of South Los Angeles and Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights and Culver City, among others. Democrats make up 66% of registered voters in the liberal and ethnically and economically diverse district.

The seat opened when Mark Ridley-Thomas was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the fall.

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jean.merl@latimes.com

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