Election: Dems could lose 2/3 Assembly control

Election: Dems could lose 2/3 Assembly control

Assembly Democratic CaucusDemocrats, who seized two-thirds control of the California Assembly in 2012, will have a tough time repeating the task this November. In Tuesday’s low turnout primary election, more than a half dozen members of the State Assembly — all Democrats — fell below 50 percent in their re-election bids.

Known as the incumbent rule, derived from a 1989 article by Nick Panagakis, incumbents who poll under 50 percent are expected to lose late deciding voters. In recent years, data guru and FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver has questioned the rule as it applies to polling. However, the 50 percent threshold still offers a guide to incumbents that must work in November.

Fox tops list of Democrats in trouble

Topping the list of seven Democratic incumbents in danger of losing their seats this fall is Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale. The first-term incumbent barely eked out a victory in 2012 — only pulling ahead of his GOP opponent after late absentee and provisional balloting. Fox will face a tough challenge this November from Palmdale Councilman Tom Lackey, the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s primary.

Lackey’s first place finish is all the more impressive because two other Republican candidates were on the ballot. GOP candidates accounted for nearly two-thirds of all votes in a district that has a GOP registration of less than half a percent.

Earlier this year, a former employee of Fox’s law office alleged that the Democratic lawmaker forced employees in his taxpayer-funded state office to perform work at his private law practice. Fox denies the allegations and says he looks forward to clearing his name in court.

Los Angeles Democrats dogged by ethics issues

Fox isn’t the only Los Angeles Democrat to be dogged by ethics issues. Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, is currently under investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission for allegations of money laundering during his 2010 campaign. Hernandez finished first in Tuesday’s election, but was only 2,000 votes ahead of county probation commissioner Joe Gardner.

The 48th Assembly district is considered a safe Democratic seat, according to the ATC Partisan Index, which ranks districts based on their competitiveness in the 2014 election. Gardner, who also ran in 2012, has made Hernandez’ misbehavior a central issue in the campaign.

While a member of the Assembly, Hernandez was arrested for driving under the influence. He beat those charges in court, in addition to getting dismissed allegations of domestic violence filed in a civil lawsuit by Carolina Taillon.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The lawsuit alleges that on one occasion, Hernandez told Taillon that ‘the Speaker of the Assembly had called a medical team to come to the building because defendant Hernandez felt like he was going to die after using cocaine.'”

Strong immigrant GOP challengers:  Young Kim, Pedro Rios

While some Democratic lawmakers are struggling by their own undoing, the re-election of Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, looks bleak due to a strong challenge in the 65th Assembly district. Small businesswoman Young Kim, a former aide to GOP Congressman Ed Royce, was the top performing candidate.

Kim also received more votes than any other GOP Assembly challenger in the state, garnering 55 percent of the vote in a Democratic district. “As many immigrant families did, my parents worked hard and struggled, but they also instilled in me the value of individual responsibility and living within a person’s means,” Kim wrote in the Orange County Register earlier this year.

A first-generation Korean American immigrant, Kim has raised nearly a half-million dollars from her network of supporters in Orange County. She’s also gained key support from legislative leaders who want to reclaim a seat once held by GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby.

Another GOP Assembly candidate with an immigrant’s tale is Pedro Rios, who illegally crossed into the United States from Mexico when he was 9 years old. “I remember walking quite a bit, and then a car picked me up,” Rios told the Bakersfield Californian in 2012. “It is a dangerous journey … I was scared.”

Below is the list of Assembly members, ranked by percent of Tuesday’s primary vote. Also shown is the number of votes.

Assembly District 36: Steve Fox

* Steve Fox (Party Preference: DEM) 9,335
Kermit F. Franklin (Party Preference: DEM) 1,295
JD Kennedy (Party Preference: REP) 3,372
Tom Lackey (Party Preference: REP) 11,850
Suzette M. Martinez (Party Preference: REP) 2,564

Assembly District 32 : Rudy Salas

* Rudy Salas (Party Preference: DEM) 9,926
Romeo Agbalog (Party Preference: REP) 5,106
Pedro A. Rios (Party Preference: REP) 8,067

Assembly District 61: Jose Medina

* Jose Medina (Party Preference: DEM) 10,460
D. Shelly Yarbrough (Party Preference: DEM) 3,534
Rudy Aranda (Party Preference: REP) 10,150

Assembly District 65: Sharon Quirk-Silva

* Sharon Quirk-Silva (Party Preference: DEM) 13,025
Young Kim (Party Preference: REP) 15,704

Assembly District 57: Ian Calderon

* Ian C. Calderon (Party Preference: DEM) 11,692
Rita Topalian (Party Preference: REP) 12,412

Assembly District 48: Roger Hernandez

* Roger Hernandez (Party Preference: DEM) 10,666
Joe M. Gardner (Party Preference: REP) 8,846
Mike Meza (Party Preference: NPP) 2,321

 Assembly District 66: Al Muratsuchi

Candidate Votes Percent
* Al Muratsuchi (Party Preference: DEM) 23,588
David Hadley (Party Preference: REP) 23,661


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