SACRAMENTO — A Democrat is all but certain to win a special election for a vacant Southern California legislative seat, bolstering the party’s supermajority in the state Assembly.
The question is whether the outcome will be decided in Tuesday’s primary or will stretch to a Feb. 4 special runoff election.
Three Democrats are seeking to fill the Assembly District 54 seat vacated this summer when then-Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, a Democrat, resigned after she was elected to the state Senate. A fourth candidate with no political affiliation qualified to run as a write-in.
The Democrats are former Culver City mayor and city clerk Christopher Armenta; John Jake, a real estate broker; and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, an aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price Jr. The write-in candidate is Morry Waksberg, a retired ophthalmologist.
Early results show Ridley-Thomas leading with 59 percent of the vote, while Armenta took about 36 percent of the vote.
Ridley-Thomas is the son of former state legislator Mark Ridley-Thomas, now chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He touts his experience as a former legislative aide and has endorsements from labor unions and prominent politicians, including Gov. Jerry Brown and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Democrats comprise 63 percent of the district’s registered voters. Just 11 percent are Republicans while 16 percent have no party preference.
If any candidate wins more than half the vote, there will be no need for a runoff election and the winner will take office before the Legislature reconvenes in January. If no candidate wins a clear majority, the top-two vote-getters will pair off in the special general election.
The district is entirely within Los Angeles County. In addition to Culver City, AD54 includes Century City, Baldwin Hills and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Crenshaw and Westwood.
Another special election last month restored Democrats’ two-thirds majority in the Assembly, if the results hold. Republican Susan Shelley asked for a recount this week after official results showed her losing by 329 votes to Democrat Matt Dababneh in the 45th Assembly District, which includes the western San Fernando Valley and a slice of Ventura County.
Democrats already have a supermajority in the state Senate, giving them the power to raise taxes, pass emergency legislation, override gubernatorial vetoes and put constitutional amendments before voters without Republican support.