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Governor sets special election for Jenny Oropeza state Senate seat

December 16, 2010 |  6:45 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday called a Feb. 15 special election to replace the late state Sen. Jenny Oropeza.  If no candidate wins a majority then, a special runoff will be held April 19.

Oropeza, Democrat from Long Beach, died Oct. 20, too late for her name to be removed from the ballot, and was reelected posthumously in the strongly Democratic district.  The  heavily gerrymandered 28th Senate District runs along the coast from Marina del Rey south through the South Bay beach cities and Lomita and Torrance to include a sliver of Long Beach.

Several Democrats already have said they will run, including former Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance,  who lost the Democratic primary for attorney general in June and was forced out by term limits this month, and perennial candidate and business consultant Mervin L. Evans of Los Angeles.  Hollywood producer Brian Quintana, another frequent candidate, said last month he was considering entering the race.

The special election will be the first under the state's new open primary system.  If no one wins a majority in the primary, the top two vote-getters, not the top vote-getter from each party, will meet in a runoff.  Critics have challenged the new system, approved by voters as Proposition 14, but so far have not prevailed in court.

--Jean Merl