Democrat Mike Gatto won a commanding victory in the special election for the 43rd Assembly District seat Tuesday, defeating his Republican opponent by a nearly 20% margin.
With 100% of the precincts reporting, Gatto received 20,870 votes, or 58.7%, according to the Los Angeles Registrar/Recorder. Sunder Ramani received 14,715 votes, or 41.4%.
A campaign official with Ramani’s campaign, reached early Wednesday morning, said the candidate would make a statement about the election later today.
Despite the victory, the campaign continues, as Gatto only has right to his new seat until November. The special election was necessary to replace Paul Krekorian, who left the Assembly in January following his election to the Los Angeles City Council.
Voters now have roughly four months to prepare for yet another ballot to decide who will fulfill the full two-year term. When the election in November is all said and done, voters will have been asked to cast their votes four times for the same seat in about six months — a process that some stakeholders have said contributes to voter fatigue and confusion. Countywide, slightly less than 20% of registered voters showed up to the polls.
"It was a very long, bruising and confusing campaign season. I'm sort of prepared to start doing the work in Sacramento," Gatto said as he was surrounded by more than 100 supporters at his Burbank campaign party Tuesday night.
The election also had to compete with the Lakers' championship series game.
At the Tavern on Brand during the final hours of voting, several patrons donned red, white and blue stickers indicating they had voted, but for others, the election wasn't even on their radar.
"There was an election today?" said Glendale resident Alfonso Bailey, a registered voter. "I had no idea."
Gatto was the top vote-getter out of a field of three Democrats in April's special primary election, but did not meet the 50% threshold needed to win the seat outright.
Still, the district's historic Democratic bent made him the favorite leading up to Tuesday's race. About 47% of district voters are registered Democrats, 25% are Republicans, and 23% have declined to state a party affiliation.
This race, though, had the element of change to keep some politicos on edge. But some Democrats on Tuesday said they had even switched parties at the polls.
"I'm voting anti-Democrat this time," said Glendale resident Walt Gregory, adding that he had become disenchanted with the Democratic Party. "I don't know anything about Ramani other than his party."
Early in the night, Ramani supporters who gathered at Notte Luna restaurant in Glendale were energetic as they waited for the vote tallies to come in. Throughout the campaign, Ramani keyed in on the excitement and support he had been able to generate in an overwhelmingly blue district.
Also on Tuesday’s ballot were the partisan primaries for the two-year Assembly term. As expected, both Gatto and Ramani won their respective party’s nomination for the seat, setting up a rematch in November.