With a tentative election date to replace outgoing senator and new California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on the books, candidates vying for the California Senate 33rd District seat are beginning to take their ambitions to the public stage.
Two Long Beach councilmembers, Al Austin (8th District) and Lena Gonzalez (1st District), have publicly announced their intentions to appear on the ballot of the special election. Gov. Gavin Newsom has set the primary election date for Tuesday, March 26. In the event of a runoff, a special election will be held June 4. Austin has received endorsements from fellow Councilmembers Dee Andrews, Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw, while Gonzalez has garnered the support of Mayor Robert Garcia, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn and Lara.
Other candidates include Vice Mayor of Bell Ana Maria Quintana, Bell City Councilmember Ali Saleh, Lynwood Mayor Jose Solache, Central Basin Municipal Water District Boardmember Leticia Vasquez Wilson, and South Gate Councilwoman Denise Diaz, who has been endorsed by the mayors of South Gate, Huntington Park and Bell Gardens. Long Beach City Councilmember Roberto Uranga had initially filed papers to run before ending his campaign and endorsing Lena Gonzalez on January 2, according to a press release.
Saleh walks into the race with the biggest war chest, a campaign budget of $114,512, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State. Solache comes in second, with a remaining budget of $83,366, according to the most recent report filed on October 24, 2018.
Austin, who announced his campaign on January 7, 2019, has been collecting contributions and investing in his campaign since December 2017, and ended the most recent reporting period at the end of June with a cash balance of $14,679. Campaign finance reports for Vasquez Wilson were temporarily unavailable through the Secretary of State’s website. None of the other candidates have submitted campaign finance reports in previous reporting periods.
A fixed special election date will be set by new California Gov. Gavin Newsom, an action that is required to take place within 14 days of Lara’s official departure from the state senate seat, which was marked by his swearing in as insurance commissioner on Monday, January 7.
The 33rd District runs along the 710 Freeway, spanning from Huntington Park in its northwestern corner to Downtown Long Beach in the south. It also includes the cities of Bell, Lakewood, Lynwood, Paramount, Signal Hill and South Gate, among others. According to the 2010 census, close to 650,000 district residents identified as Hispanic, making up nearly 70% of the district’s total population of 900,000, while 13% identified as non-Hispanic White and 8.6% as non-Hispanic Black.
(Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect special election dates announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on January 15.)