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Assemblyman Ben Hueso of San Diego wins seat in state Senate

Hueso's election restores the supermajority the Democrats gained in the upper house in November.

March 13, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
  • Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) won Tuesday's special election for the 40th District Senate seat vacated by Juan Vargas, who was elected to the House of Representatives.
Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) won Tuesday's special election… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) has won a seat in the state Senate, restoring the supermajority the Democrats gained in the upper house in November.

The unofficial tally gives Hueso 52.3% of the vote in a special election held this week for the vacant 40th Senate District. He defeated Democrat Anna Nevenic and two Republicans, Hector Raul Gastelum and Xanthi Gionis.

The election fills one of three Senate vacancies. Hueso, who is scheduled to be sworn in March 21, replaces former Democratic Sen. Juan Vargas of San Diego. Vargas and state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) moved to Congress in January. The third vacancy occurred when state Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) resigned last month to work for Chevron.

In an election this week to fill McLeod's 32nd Senate District seat, no candidate received a majority. A runoff will be held May 14 between the top two finishers: Democratic Assemblywoman Norma Torres of Pomona, who received 43.6% of the vote, and Ontario Mayor Paul S. Leon, a Republican who garnered 26.4%.

Four other candidates also ran. The Democrats were San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker of Chino, Ontario City Councilman Paul Vincent Avila and Joanne T. Gilbert, a retired teacher from Rialto. Pomona Planning Commissioner Kenny Noble, a Republican, was also in the race.

Alan Clayton, a political analyst who follows legislative races, predicted that the assemblywoman would win the runoff, given the district's 48.3% Democrat and 26.4% Republican registration.

"Torres has got it," Clayton said. "She faces a Republican in a strong Democratic district."

If Torres wins, the Democrats' numbers in the Assembly would fall below the supermajority threshold in the lower house, at least until Hueso's seat and possibly Torres' are filled.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), who won election last week to the Los Angeles City Council, will leave the Legislature on July 1, and a special election will subsequently be held for that seat.

Having a two-thirds majority allows Democrats to raise taxes, place measures on the ballot and override gubernatorial vetoes without Republican votes.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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