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Democrats pick up one state legislative seat, lose another

May 22, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Cindy White of Westwood casts her vote at Sinai Temple on Wilshire Boulevard.
Cindy White of Westwood casts her vote at Sinai Temple on Wilshire Boulevard. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Democrats picked up another seat in the state Assembly in Tuesday’s special legislative elections, restoring their two-thirds majority in the lower house, while a Republican was the apparent upset winner of a race for an open Senate seat.

With 100% of precincts reporting, community organizer Lorena Gonzalez won 72.3% of the vote over small-business owner and fellow Democrat Steve Castaneda to fill the 80th Assembly District seat.

The seat was vacated when former Assemblywoman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) was elected to the state Senate. Both candidates live in Chula Vista.

Voters in a San Joaquin Valley district also went to the polls Tuesday for a primary election to fill a vacancy in the 16th Senate District seat created when former Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) abruptly resigned to take a government-affairs job with Chevron Corp.

In an apparent upset, with 100% of precincts reporting, Republican farmer and businessman Andy Vidak of Hanford received 51.9% of the vote, beating four other candidates.

They included three Democrats -- Paulina Miranda, a businesswoman from Fresno; Leticia Perez, a county supervisor from Bakersfield; and Francisco “Frank” Ramirez, a business consultant from Riverdale -- as well as Peace and Freedom Party candidate Mohammad “O.” Arif, a Bakersfield businessman.

Perez,  the candidate backed by Senate Democrats, placed second with 41.7% of he vote. If the tally holds with the counting of provisional ballots in the coming days, Vidak will have won the seat in the primary without the need for a runoff election.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown called a special election for July 23 to fill the 52nd Assembly District seat vacated when former Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Pomona) won election to the state Senate. If no candidate wins a majority in the primary election, a runoff will be held Sept. 24.


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