Polling places will be open Tuesday for voters to choose among eight candidates vying to fill a vacant seat in the state Senate's 28th District.
The special primary election and a contest for the state Senate's 17th District seat in the High Desert area are the first under the state's new open primary election rules. Under the new "top two" rule, if no candidate wins a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party, will face each other in an April 19 runoff election. The new system was approved by voters in June 2010 and went into effect Jan. 1.
The 28th District election is being held to replace the late state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who was posthumously re-elected in November. Oropeza, a Democrat, died Oct. 20 from complications of an abdominal blood clot, but was still re-elected. The state Senate's 28th District includes Marina del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and other areas.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling locations and sample ballots can be found at www.lavote.net/locator.
The candidates for the 28th District are:
• Martha Flores Gibson, Republican
• James P. Thompson, Republican
• Mark Lipman, Nonpartisan
• Ted W. Lieu, Democrat
• Bob Valentine, Republican
• Kevin Thomas McGurk, Democrat
• Michael Chamness, Nonpartisan
• Jeffrey E. Fortini, Republican
Lieu, 41, appears to be the presumptive front-runner in the special election. Lieu has received numerous endorsements, including from Gov. Jerry Brown, and has collected nearly seven times more in campaign contributions than his nearest challenger. Lieu, who failed in a Democratic bid last year for state attorney general, previously served three two-year terms representing the 53rd Assembly District before he was ushered out due to term limits. His former Assembly district covered roughly half of the state Senate's 28th District.
Democrats hold a distinct advantage in the 28th, with about 48 percent of the district's 467,493 registered voters identifying themselves as Democrats. Republicans trail with about 25 percent of the electorate, while roughly 20 percent of voters decline to state a party, according to information from the state Secretary of State's Office.
Lieu and Valentine are the only two candidates who have spent significant amounts of money on the race, according to filings with the California Secreatary of State's office. Lieu spent more than $228,500 last month on the campaign and Valentine spent nearly $55,000.
The 28th District special election will cost an estimated $1.7 million and a low voter turnout is expected.