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Democrats win California Assembly seat as GOP gains in Senate

Lorena Gonzalez wins a special election for the 80th Assembly District in the San Diego area, while GOP farmer Andy Vidak wins a Central Valley Senate seat.

May 22, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
  • Lorena Gonzalez, a community organizer, received 72.3% of the vote to win the 80th Assembly District race in a special election.
Lorena Gonzalez, a community organizer, received 72.3% of the vote to win… (Nelvin C. Cepeda / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO — Democrats took another seat in the state Assembly this week, but a conservative Republican won a Central Valley state Senate district in an upset victory.

The San Diego-area Assembly seat was a sure bet for Democrats — both candidates were from the majority party.

Community organizer Lorena Gonzalez won a special election in that race with 72.3% of the vote, defeating small-business owner Steve Castaneda in the 80th Assembly District.

To the north, in another special election, Republican farmer Andy Vidak of Hanford won a Senate seat, besting three Democrats and a candidate from the Peace and Freedom Party with about 52% of the vote.

Jim Brulte, the new chairman of the California Republican Party, poured $206,000 in party funds into an independent campaign of television commercials supporting Vidak, who is known in the area because of a recent unsuccessful run for Congress.

He ran for the 16th Senate District seat on a promise to bring more jobs to the valley, increase water storage and fix the schools.

"Common sense knows no party lines," Vidak said Wednesday in declaring victory.

Democratic Sen. Curren Price appears to have won a position Tuesday on the Los Angeles City Council, although many votes remain to be counted.

A special election will be called to fill his seat in the 26th Senate District, which is considered safely Democratic.

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