Sharon Runner only candidate to file for 21st Senate District special election

Sharon Runner only candidate to file for 21st Senate District special election
Republican candidate for state Senate Sharon Runner, middle, chats with supporters in 2011. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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 include the 7th Senate District seat vacated when Mark DeSaulnier was elected to Congress.

Democrat Steve Glazer, a former strategist for Gov. Jerry Brown, filed papers late Friday to join a competitive field that will also includes three other Democrats:  Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, former Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo and Terry Kremin.

"Voters deserve an opportunity to elect a fiscally conservative, independent-minded representative who shares their belief in nonpartisan problem-solving," Glazer said after his last-minute entry into the contest.

Glazer finished third in the June 2014 primary for an East Bay Assembly seat after labor groups, including the California Teachers Assn. heavily backed another Democrat in the race. Glazer had angered labor in 2012 by helping two pro-business Democrats beat union-backed incumbents.

A special election will also be held in March for the 37th Senate District, which was held by Republican Mimi Walters of Irvine before she was elected to Congress. Two Republicans filed papers for the Walters district: Assemblyman Don Wagner of Irvine and former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.