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Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager declares victory in state Senate race

Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) poses for a photograph with the city skyline and mountains in the background.
Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), who represents the 54th District, declared victory in the special election for the 30th Senate District seat.
(Leroy Hamilton)

Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager declared victory Wednesday in the race for the 30th Senate District seat, which stretches from Century City to South L.A., after amassing a large early lead in the vote count against six other candidates.

Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), who represents the 54th District in the state Assembly, secured 66% of the votes tabulated as of Tuesday evening, putting her comfortably ahead of the second-place finisher, Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee, who received 13% of the vote.

If the lead holds, Kamlager would avoid a runoff election in May, which would have been necessary if no candidate received at least 50% of votes.

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Kamlager cannot be sworn in until after the date of the election certification, which is tentatively scheduled for March 11, a county spokesman said. A special election for Kamlager’s Assembly seat will be called after her resignation.

“Woke up this morning to the next chapter … and I’m ready,” Kamlager, 48, said in a Facebook post on her personal page. “Some want to win to claim it as their own. If you know me, that is far from who I am. You grow power when you share power. You share power when you are honest, open, and engaged.”

Further down in the post, she wrote: “In the words of Beyoncé, ‘always stay gracious.’ That part, and 67%.”

Kamlager’s Assembly district includes much of the communities she will represent in the state Senate, adding Westmont, downtown L.A. and Florence to her constituency, a district of nearly 1 million, according to her campaign.

The seat came open after then-state Sen. Holly Mitchell won her bid for the 2nd District position on the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors in November. A former district director for Mitchell, Kamlager received the endorsements of not only Mitchell but also several political powerhouses, including U.S. Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

Kamlager campaigned on securing COVID-19 relief for the district and a promise to implement progressive criminal justice reform and take immediate action on climate change.

“You cannot fix COVID if people get a vaccine but they’re not able to send their kids to school, they can’t go back to work, they don’t have a job, they’re getting evicted,” Kamlager said in an interview Wednesday. “Before COVID, we were trying to manage cracks in the system. After COVID, we’re trying to manage the craters.”

Republican candidate Joe Lisuzzo, a businessman and local restaurant owner, came in third in the heavily Democratic district, securing 3,814 votes, or 6.69% of tabulated votes, according to county election results.

Ballots were sent to all voters in the district, with 10.35% casting ballots. Voters could mail in the ballots, place them in drop boxes, submit them at vote centers or cast ballots there. As of Wednesday afternoon, the percentage of total votes tallied had not been released by the county registrar-recorder’s office.

As election results became available Tuesday evening, congratulatory messages for Kamlager started to pour in on social media.

“Congrats to my friend and colleague @sydneykamlager for becoming the next State Senator in #SD30!” Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) said in a tweet. “She is a fierce fighter for single-payer healthcare, criminal justice and LGBTQ+ equality!”

“Special elections are not easy (believe me), especially when you’re a working mom and running a tough campaign- but it’s over and I’m excited for her to join us on the red carpet!” state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) said in a tweet.

Before assuming office in the Assembly in 2018, Kamlager was an elected member of the L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees.

Kamlager will be the only Black woman in the state Senate.

Kamlager said that while she leads from that perspective, she listens to and engages with all neighborhoods in her district, ensuring everyone feels heard.

Black women “are really good at representing everyone,” she said. “When Black women win, everyone wins.”

Times staff writer Melanie Mason and City News Service contributed to this report.


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