CLSA PAC Update on California Assembly, Senate Elections

April 18, 2018
By Manny Heer

2018 presents many unique political opportunities for California. With three special elections to fill recent vacancies in the legislature, a gubernatorial race, and a host of ballot measures, the results of 2018 are certain to change the political landscape for the foreseeable future. In the aftermath of the 2017 sexual harassment scandals that roiled institutions across the country, allegations of improper behavior have led to ongoing investigations within the Capitol, altering the balance of power by preventing a Democratic supermajority. These investigations resulted in three open Assembly seats and one open Senate seat.

California State Assembly District 39 (San Fernando Valley)
This seat became vacant following Raul Bocanegra’s (D) resignation on Nov. 27, 2017, due to sexual harassment allegations against him. Initially, Mr. Bocanegra announced he would not run for re-election and would instead resign at the end of his legislative term on Sept 1, 2018. Due to mounting political pressure, however, much of which was generated by the #MeToo movement, he resigned on Nov. 27, 2018.

A special primary election for this district was called for April 3, 2018. In special elections, if a candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote in the primary election, even if by a single vote, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidates receive a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a special general election (June 5, 2018). Multiple candidates, mostly Democrats, completed the filing process for the special election primary ballot. The most notable candidates from this race are Antonio Sanchez and Luz Rivas, who is the candidate leading the pack in fundraising. Luz Rivas recently secured the Democratic Party endorsement.


California State Assembly District 45 (Encino)
This seat was held by former Assemblymember Matt Dababneh, who was also accused of sexual allegations against him in Dec. 2017. Mr. Dababneh resigned from his position on Jan. 1, 2018. He has denied the allegations against him.

Governor Jerry Brown issued the proclamation for the special election primary to be held April 3, 2018 with the runoff set to coincide with the statewide primary on June 5, 2018. Seven Democrats, a Republican, and one Independent candidate, submitted their nomination for this race. Jesse Gabriel (D) and Tricia Robbins Kassan (D) lead the group in fundraising with Gabriel ahead by two times more cash on hand.


California State Assembly District 54 (Los Angeles)
Democrat Sebastian Ridley-Thomas announced his resignation from the Assembly on Dec. 27, 2017, citing health reasons. At least seven Democrats and one perennial Republican candidate filed statements of intention to run in the April 3 special election primary.

One of the candidates, Dr. Tepring Michele Piquado, gained attention from some of the heavy-hitting political groups in Sacramento. Piquado, a physical scientist at RAND Corporation, received support from some of the more prominent groups in Sacramento, such as the Civil Justice Association of California, Charter Schools groups, and many more. CLSA held a meeting with Piquado in January to learn more about the candidate and her issue areas of interest. Due to her background in science, Ms. Piquado fully supported the life sciences industry and the innovations created by this sector, which led CLSA to support her campaign. Ms. Piquado, unfortunately, was unable to secure a spot for the June 2018 Run-Off election.


California State Senate District 32 (Downey)

Incumbent Democrat Tony Mendoza resigned on February 22nd after multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior. With eight Democrats and only two Republicans running, a possibility now exists, however remote, that a same-party GOP runoff could occur in this strongly Democratic district. The more likely outcome is that Mendoza’s seven Democratic opponents split the anti-Mendoza Democratic vote and he squeaks into the runoff on name recognition to face whichever of the two Republicans receives the most votes.

On March 8th, Governor Brown set the special election date to fill Mendoza’s seat for August 7th, with the special election primary taking place on June 5th to coincide with the statewide top two primary.  Mendoza has already filed to run in the special election for the vacancy created by his own resignation.

Questions: Please contact Oliver Rocroi, Senior Director, State Government Relations ( or (916) 588-0965.