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Lieu Senate seat draws crowd of interested politicians

Lieu Senate seat draws crowd of interested politicians
State Sen. Ted Lieu, above, is running for Congress, drawing the interest of several politicians for his Senate seat. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO -- State Sen. Ted Lieu's announcement that he is running for an open congressional seat has sparked interest in his Senate seat from a crowd of possible contenders, including Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler.

Lieu, a Democrat from Torrrance, said he plans to run for the congressional seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman, a contest that could be a tough one if L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaorslavsky decides to jump in.

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On Tuesday, Democrat Vito Imbasciani, a state surgeon for the California Army National Guard, became the first person to announce his candidacy for Lieu's 26th Senate District seat.

A resident of the Hollywood Hills, Imbasciani, 57, has 28 years' service as an officer of the U.S. Army Medical Corps and is a veteran of two wars, with active-duty tours in Desert Storm and Iraq. Imbasciani said he is an advocate for rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

On Wednesday, Sandra Fluke, an activist for women's rights announced her plan to run for the seat.

Butler is "seriously considering a run for the 26th Senate District," said spokesman Andrew DeBlock. Butler is currently raising money to run for the 62nd Assembly District.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) is also considered a potential candidate but has not yet decided if he'll jump in, representatives said.

Those interested in the Lieu Senate seat also include Democrat Ben Allen, a member and past president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Board.

Allen will be seeking the state Democratic Party's endorsement this weekend for the Senate seat.

"Unless I crash and burn on Sunday, I'm in," said Allen, 35, a resident of Santa Monica who serves as "of counsel" for the law firm of Richardson & Patel and who teaches at the UCLA School of Law.

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