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Los Angeles Voters Back At Polls To Fill Open Assembly Seat

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Voters in northeastern Los Angeles are heading to the polls yet again Tuesday for a packed primary to fill a vacant state Assembly seat.

It marks the fourth election in the district since November 2016, and another is likely in December.

Former Congressman Xavier Becerra’s appointment to serve as California attorney general kicked off the chain reaction of elections, with voters choosing his replacement in an April primary and June general election. That replacement, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, left open the state Assembly seat that is now up for grabs.

“There is a lot of voter fatigue,” said Democrat Wendy Carrillo, one of the candidates. “It’s going to take a small number of people to determine who will make it into the top two.”

Carrillo is one 13 candidates — none of whom are Republicans — vying for the seat. The district is solidly Democratic, with one of the largest Latino populations among the state’s 80 Assembly districts as well as a sizeable LGBT community. A Democratic victory will bump the party up to 55 Assembly seats — one more than the supermajority threshold needed to pass tax and fee increases.

With so many candidates, it’s unlikely anyone will draw more than 50 percent of the vote, prompting yet another election between the top two candidates in December.

“It is a race in which the margin of votes between second place, making the runoff, and third place, not, is going to be razor thin, likely,” said Paul Mitchell of Political Data, a firm that provides voting information for candidates.

Carrillo is the choice of the legislative Women’s Caucus as well as Emily’s List, a national organization that supports Democratic women. She’s an immigrant from El Salvador who did not become a legal resident of the United States until age 13, a background she cites as one of the reasons she can strongly represent the district.

“I believe that our lived experiences matter,” she said. “When we come from these communities and we understand the issues our neighborhoods face, it’s because we’ve lived them. I’ve lived them.”

Equality California, meanwhile, endorsed four candidates for their work and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians. Three are gay men: Luis Lopez, Alex de Ocampo and David Vela. The fourth, Mark Vargas, is a strong ally of the LGBT community, the group said in its endorsement.

Lopez ran for the seat in 2012, losing to Gomez. Lopez launched a pro-Latino, LGBT political action committee in 2005. He’s also on Planned Parenthood-Los Angeles’ board of directors and previously led a city planning commission. He helped lead the fight against the expansion of a local landfill several years ago.

“I want to take that same activist sensibility to Sacramento to keep working to improve our communities,” he said.

Also in the race are Democrats Ron Birnbaum, a doctor; Mike Fong, a Los Angeles Community College District board member; Mario Olmos, who does nonprofit work; and Barbara Torres, a union advocate. Libertarian Andrew Aguero, Peace and Freedom Party member John Prysner, and Patrick Koppula, who lists no party preference, will also be on the ballot.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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