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News and analysis on California politics
Sharon Runner only candidate to file for 21st Senate District special election

Former Republican state Sen. Sharon Runner of Lancaster, who rebounded after receiving a double lung transplant three years ago,  was the only candidate to file papers by Friday’s deadline to run in a special election to fill a Senate seat vacated when Steve Knight was elected to Congress.

Runner, 60, is seeking to serve the remaining two years of the four-year term for the 21st Senate District seat representing parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. She previously served in the state Assembly and was elected to the Senate in 2011, but decided not to seek reelection so she could recover from the lung transplant, which was required because she suffered a rare autoimmune disease.

Asked about running unopposed, Runner said late Friday, “That’s the greatest news a candidate can hear. I never expected to be in that position.”

Several other potential candidates, including former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, decided not to compete for the seat.

The March 17 special election will also...

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Treasurer John Chiang declines Senate run, Willie Brown backs Harris

A day after billionaire Tom Steyer announced he would not seek Barbara Boxer's U.S. Senate seat, the field of potential contenders shrank further as state Treasurer John Chiang decided that he, too, would stay out of the race.

Chiang, a Democrat who took office three weeks ago, was a potentially serious contender in the June 2016 primary. He was elected to two terms as state controller before winning the treasurer’s job in November, and he has proved adept at raising campaign money.

For now, the sole major candidate in the race is state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, also a Democrat. Boxer, 74, has announced she will not run for reelection.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, has been working behind the scenes to prepare for a Senate run but has not yet announced whether he will enter the race.

Former state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown told the Sacramento Bee on Friday that Villaraigosa should decline to run in deference to Harris.

“His loyalty and his relationship...

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Villaraigosa demurs on Senate prospects after Steyer bows out

One of Antonio Villaraigosa’s most formidable potential rivals for U.S. Senate has opted not to run, but the former Los Angeles mayor shied from the subject Thursday night in Washington. 

"I have an important announcement to make," he joked before presenting an award named in his honor. "Dessert will be served in a moment."

If he was any more hopeful about his prospects after the announcement earlier in the day that billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer would not  seek U. S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat, Villaraigosa did not say so. 

"I really don't have anything else to say right now," he said. "I can tell you that I called [Steyer] within a minute or two of receiving word.

“I have a lot of respect for him," Villaraigosa said.

As he worked the hallways of Washington, Latino leaders had begun a shadow campaign.

They challenged an emerging conventional wisdom that state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is now the clear front-runner and would be hard to catch. They said it was time that...

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Tom Steyer's exit shifts Senate race focus to Antonio Villaraigosa

With billionaire Tom Steyer opting out of California’s U.S. Senate race on Thursday, the most likely major rival for Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris appears to be former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

For now, Harris is the lone major contender for the Senate seat that Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer plans to vacate next year. But Villaraigosa, who was spending Thursday in Washington, has been working hard behind the scenes to lay groundwork to run against Harris.

Villaraigosa, who left office as mayor in 2013, might still opt to run instead for governor in 2018 — or to abandon his plan to try to return to elected office.

But if he enters the Senate race, as many close to him expect, it will set up a campaign clash between Los Angeles and San Francisco, where Harris was district attorney from 2004 to 2010.

A key question is whether Villaraigosa could mobilize broad enough support in Southern California to offset the wide backing that Harris expects in the Bay Area, a bastion of...

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Environmentalist Tom Steyer opts out of Senate race

Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer announced Thursday that he has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate, saying he believes he should stay focused on his work fighting climate change in California and across the nation.

“This was a very hard decision,” Steyer wrote on the Huffington Post website. “... Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president, along with my passion for our state, I believe my work right now should not be in our nation’s capital but here -- at home in California, and in states around the country where change is on the move.”

His decision leaves state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris as the only major candidate in the June 2016 primary for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer -- at least for now. Those seriously exploring a run include former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and several members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Steyer, who spent more than $74 million of his own money on Senate and gubernatorial contests in 2014,...

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Ex-state Sen. Calderon seeks another delay in public corruption trial

Faced with a massive amount of discovery material from the FBI, including 2,200 secretly recorded telephone calls and meetings, former state Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello) has received agreement from federal prosecutors and a judge to delay his corruption trial nearly three months to Aug. 11.

Calderon was indicted in February on federal charges of accepting some $88,000 in cash bribes, as well as gourmet meals and golf outings, in exchange for his influence as a lawmaker.

He is accused of accepting bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a film industry executive in exchange for pushing for an extension of tax credits for film productions. Also,  Calderon allegedly took bribes from the owner of a medical firm in exchange for action on legislation involving workers compensation reform.

Calderon's trial was set to begin May 19, but prosecutors filed a request for the delay Tuesday, telling the court “defense counsel represent that failure to grant the continuance would deny...

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