Democrat leads race for seat senator vacated after claims
By SOPHIA BOLLAG
Aug. 08, 2018
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democrat Vanessa Delgado had a comfortable lead Wednesday in a Southern California special election to replace a state senator who resigned over sexual misconduct allegations.
If she maintains her advantage, the mayor of Montebello will represent parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties for just three months. That's what was left in the term of state Sen. Tony Mendoza, who resigned in February.
Delgado had about 52 percent of more than 45,000 votes counted Tuesday night, giving her a nearly 1,600-vote lead. Her rival, Republican businesswoman Rita Topalian, had 48 percent, a relatively strong showing in a heavily Democratic district mostly in Los Angeles County and including the cities of Lakewood, Downey, Whittier and Norwalk.
At least 5,000 ballots remained uncounted Wednesday in Los Angeles County. Mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by Friday will be counted. The district includes just a small sliver of Orange County and the outstanding ballots there are likely only in the hundreds.
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins declined to declare Delgado the winner Wednesday afternoon, noting that votes are still being counted. But she said she expects Delgado will prevail and be sworn in, though it's unclear when.
The Legislature's regular session concludes at the end of August. Delgado's replacement will take office in December.
Regardless of the outcome, Topalian will have another shot at the seat. In a strange twist, primary voters in June chose Delgado for the special election but a different Democrat, Bob Archuleta, to face Topalian in November. The winner of that contest will get a four-year term.
Although her term would be short, Delgado says she will focus on securing resources for the district, which has lacked representation since Mendoza resigned. She ran on a platform focused on affordable housing and school reform.
If she's sworn in, Delgado will bring the Senate Democrats one seat short of a supermajority.