Holly Mitchell advances to California Senate

jwhite@sacbee.comSeptember 18, 2013 

As expected, Assemblywoman Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, cruised to victory Tuesday in a special election to fill a Senate seat that Democrat Curren Price vacated when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Mitchell collected more than 80 percent of the vote, crushing fellow Democrat Mervin Evans in the 26th Senate District race. Her move to the upper house could rekindle speculation of her becoming the next Senate president pro tem after the Senate’s current leader, Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, terms out next year.

Returns from Tuesday’s special election in the 45th Assembly District reflected a far more crowded field. Democrat Matt Dababneh and Republican Susan Shelley emerged as the top two vote-getters in a field of 11, each securing less than a quarter of the vote in the race to replace Democrat Bob Blumenfield of Woodland Hills, who also traded a legislative seat for the Los Angeles City Council.

Dababneh, an aide to U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, bested several other Democrats. Shelley, who has written three books on the U.S. Constitution, easily eclipsed fellow Republican Chris Kolski. Assuming the results hold, Dababneh and Shelley will face off in a Nov. 19 general election.

With Mitchell’s departure, Democrats now hold 52 seats in the Assembly, two short of what they need for a supermajority. They could regain one seat next Tuesday, when Republican-turned-independent Paul Leon, mayor of Ontario, and Democrat Freddie Rodriguez, Pomona City Council member, vie for the 52nd Assembly District seat that Norma Torres left after she was elected to the state Senate.

If Rodriguez prevails and Dababneh defeats Shelley in the San Fernando Valley runoff, Democrats will regain their two-thirds margin in the Assembly when lawmakers reconvene in January. With Mitchell's win, Democrats hold 28 of 40 seats in the Senate, one more than a supermajority.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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