Democrats seek Assembly supermajority in special election

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrats are looking to bolster their supermajority in California's Assembly in Tuesday's special primary election to fill a vacant seat.

It's unlikely any of the 13 candidates running for the chance to represent northeastern Los Angeles will secure the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat outright, prompting a run-off in December. But with 10 Democrats running in the district that solidly favors their party, two could easily emerge in the top slots.

"Democrats can't lose, no matter who wins, no matter who ends up in the runoff," said Jaime Regalado, former executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University.

California's 51st Assembly District is one of the most solidly Democratic in the state, with a heavily Latino population and a large block of LGBT voters. No Republicans are running for the seat. The other three candidates represent the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party or have no party preference.

The seat was vacated this summer by now U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez. The Democrat was elected to Congress in a special election to replace Xavier Becerra, now California's Attorney General.

A Democratic victory will again give the party 55 out of 80 Assembly seats — one over the threshold needed for a supermajority, giving the party power to pass tax and fee increases without Republicans. Democrats also hold a supermajority in the Senate.

Labor, LGBT and women's groups are all playing in the contest, backing their favorite candidates.

Democrat Wendy Carrillo, for example, has the support of Emily's List, a national organization that backs Democratic women, and the legislative Women's Caucus. The Service Employees International Union also endorsed her.

Meanwhile, the LGBT group Equality California backed four candidates: Luis Lopez, Alex de Ocampo, David Vela and Mark Vargas. All but Vargas are openly gay men.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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