Tony Strickland, Julia Brownley winning heated Ventura congressional race
Democratic state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley of Oak Park emerged from Tuesday's rancorous primary to win a place on the November ballot against Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark.
With about half the precincts reporting, independent candidate Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks was running third.
The newly drawn Ventura County congressional district, formerly viewed as Republican ground, now is one of several "swing" districts that could be won by either party. Registration in the 26th Congressional District is 41% Democratic and 35% Republican; 19% of voters are unaffiliated.
Republican Party leaders quickly rallied behind Strickland, the only GOP candidate on the ballot. Parks, generally viewed as a moderate with a good record on local land-use and environmental issues, switched from Republican to "no party preference" to run in the race.
With Strickland seemingly assured of one of the two spots on the general election ballot, Parks and Brownley battled furiously for the other. National Democrats, who supported Brownley, sent voters mail trying to tie Parks to some of the most conservative elements in the Republican Party, including Sarah Palin.
Parks got support from a super PAC known as icPurple, which backs independent candidates.
There were three other Democrats on the ballot, raising concerns by party leaders that they would draw votes from Brownley.
Much of the area currently is represented by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), who decided to retire rather than seek reelection after his home was drawn into another district.
Photo: Linda Parks, left, Julia Brownley, center, Tony Strickland, right. Credit: Los Angeles Times; handout; Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times