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State Senate vacancies in South Bay and High Desert on Tuesday's ballot

The two Senate races, in the 17th District and the 28th District, are the first to be run under California's new election rules, which call for a runoff of the top two vote-getters if no candidate wins a majority.

February 14, 2011|By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times

Voters go to the polls Tuesday in special elections to fill vacancies in two state Senate districts, one in the High Desert and the other in the South Bay.

The elections are the first under the state's new "top two" elections rules. If no candidate wins a majority, the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party, will advance to an April 19 runoff.

It is highly unlikely that a runoff will be needed in the High Desert's 17th District, where only two candidates are on the ballot, Republican Sharon Runner and Democrat Darren W. Parker, both from Lancaster.

Runner is strongly favored to succeed her husband, George Runner, in the heavily Republican district, which spans parts of Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and also includes a sliver of Kern County. George Runner was elected to the state Board of Equalization in the fall.

In the South Bay's 28th District, which runs from parts of the Westside along the coast and into Long Beach, eight candidates are vying to replace the late Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who was a Long Beach Democrat. Former Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is favored to finish first.

It is unclear, however, whether he can win a majority and avoid a runoff. If a runoff is required, observers expect it would be between Lieu and a Republican and therefore would not feature two members of the same party, as the new system allows.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Results for both races will be posted on the Los Angeles County Registrar's website beginning shortly after polls close.

jean.merl@latimes.com

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