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Gov. Brown calls special election for three vacant state Senate seats

Gov. Brown calls special election for three vacant state Senate seats
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers a ceremonial re-enactment of the House oath-of-office to Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.). A special election was called to fill Knight's state Senate seat. (Cliff Owen / AP)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday called special elections for March 17 to fill three state Senate seats vacated because the members were elected to Congress in November. A runoff is scheduled for May 19 for seats in which no candidate wins a majority vote.

The elections were called for the 7th Senate District, which was held by Democrat Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, the 21st Senate District, which was held by Republican Stephen Knight of Palmdale and the 37th Senate District, which was held by Republican Mimi Walters of Irvine.

Because of the makeup of party registration in each district and its voting history, Democrats are likely to keep the DeSaulnier seat and Republicans to keep the other two, according to Allan Hoffenblum, who publishes an election handicapping guide called the California Target Book.

"It would be an upset to see any change," he said.

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Those who have filed papers to raise funds for a campaign for DeSaulnier’s seat include Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord and former Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo.

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Potential Republican candidates for the Knight seat include former Sen. Sharon Runner of Lancaster,  Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford and Victorville businessman Sal Chavez. Democrat Star Moffatt, a Palmdale businesswoman, is also raising money for the contest.

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The Walters district is drawing Republican candidates, including Assemblyman Don Wagner of Irvine and former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.

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