Election day: Legislative races to watch

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With independently drawn districts and new voting rules, much uncertainty surrounds the 80 Assembly seats and 20 state Senate seats up for grabs Tuesday. Below is a list of some of the state races we’ll be watching as the polls close this evening.


Stay tuned to PolitiCal for details throughout the evening.

State Senate

SD 31 – Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) recruited former Air Force general Richard Roth, a moderate Democrat, to run in this Riverside County district. The top Democratic finisher is likely to face Republican Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Orange) in the fall, and Steinberg says Roth would be a stronger general election candidate. But the state Democratic Party has backed Steve Clute, who is well known in the district, having run for the Legislature here twice before.

State Assembly

AD 5 - Former GOP state Sen. Rico Oller is facing strong opposition from Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow, who has financial support from business groups seeking to elect more moderate candidates. This is a safe Republican district which stretches from the bedroom communities outside Sacramento to the shores of Lake Tahoe.

AD 33 - This district may become the ultimate test of the state’s new election system, which allows the top two vote getters to advance to the fall run-off regardless of political party. The Service Employees International Union has tried to boost the prospects of Big Bear Lake mayor Bill Jahn, who they see as a more moderate alternative to conservative lighting rod Asm. Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks). While Donnelly is expected to be the top vote getter, the union and many Democrats are hoping Jahn finishes ahead of Democrat John Coffey, who they see as unelectable, setting up a head-to-head showdown between the two GOP candidates in the fall.

AD 39 - Los Angeles city councilman Richard Alarcon is seeking to return to the Assembly seat he was elected to six years ago. He faces Raul Bocanegra, chief of staff to former Alarcon aide and current Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar).


AD 46 - No race has been more expensive this cycle than the San Fernando Valley seat that has turned into a proxy war between teachers unions and charter-school advocates. Brian Johnson, executive director of the Larchmont charter schools, has received more that $1.1 million in PAC support, while the California Teachers Assn. has spent more than $400,000 against him. Others in the race include Democrats Laurette Healey, law professor Andrew Lachman, and Adrin Nazarian.

[For the record, 12:36 p.m. June 5: An earlier version of this post said former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl has endorsed Betsy Butler. She has endorsed Torie Osborn. The post also incorrectly spelled Osborn’s first name Toriee.]

AD 50 – Thanks to new political maps that have vastly altered her current district, Assemblywoman Betsy Butler faces an acrimonious, and expensive, political challenge from Democratic activist Torie Osborn. Butler’s reelection has been the top priority for Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, while Osborn has the support of former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica). Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom rounds out the Democratic field in this left-leaning coastal district.

AD 69 - In northern Orange County, a safe Democratic seat has become the top priority for the state’s Chamber of Commerce this spring, which has spent more than $400,000 to boost Democrat Tom Daly, the clerk/recorder for Orange County. Labor is backing union organizer Julio Perez. Democrats Michelle Martinez, a Santa Ana councilwoman, and Francisco Barragan, as well as Republican Joe Moreno are also in the race.

AD 74 - A coalition of business interests and Republican millionaire Charles Munger Jr. have spent more than $560,000 in this Orange County district in hopes of electing Newport Beach councilwoman Leslie Daigle, one of a handful of GOP candidates who has refused to sign a no-tax pledge. Her opponent, incumbent Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) is running in a district that is vastly different from the one he now represents.



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-- Anthony York in Sacramento