Krekorian’s success makes Assembly vacancy more likely
Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s special election to fill a vacancy on the Los Angeles City Council and will now move on to a runoff election Dec. 8.
He will go head-to-head with former California Film Commission Chairwoman Christine Essel, who finished second in Tuesday’s balloting.
A Krekorian victory could temporarily leave the 43rd Assembly District, which covers Glendale and Burbank, without a representative.
While Krekorian rode to a strong performance on a wave of support for his legislative work promoting renewable energy and local film production, among other causes, the runoff election is expected to be fiercely competitive, observers say.
Of the 14,525 ballots cast in Council District 2, which sweeps across the San Fernando Valley from Sherman Oaks to Tujunga, Krekorian won over 4,929 voters, 34% of the field, compared with 4,104 for Essel, 28%, according to the Los Angeles City Clerk.
That result was in a race with 10 candidates and in an election where just 12% of the 123,750 registered voters cast ballots, leaving room for each of the runoff candidates to gain ground.
Essel and Krekorian were by far the top fundraisers in the initial race, but Essel’s total, which reached the city’s $330,000 threshold by Sept. 18, towered over Krekorian’s collections of $157,870, a figure that on its own was nearly double the next-best fundraiser’s total of $81,536, according to the latest data published by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
That third-place fundraiser, who also finished third in votes, with 1,871, was Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member Tamar Galatzan.
Although many expect Essel, a former Paramount Pictures executive, to rake in major contributions leading up to the runoff, Krekorian showed Tuesday he was able to not only withstand a barrage of mailers and commercials funded by the Essel camp, but capable of coming out on top, despite the total spent against him.
His strong showing will likely increase interest in his potentially vacant Assembly seat, as democratic and republican hopefuls have already begun planning for campaigns, should Krekorian win.
Assembly hopefuls will not be able to file for candidacy unless Krekorian wins and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declares a special election to fill his seat, according to the office of the Secretary of State.
Schwarzenegger would have to make his declaration within two weeks of the seat being vacated and would likely call for an election in early 2010, according to the office of the Secretary of State.
Still, a result in the race remains uncertain and may come down to which candidate is able to win over the support of voters who cast ballots for Galatzan or fourth-place finisher Mary Benson, both of whom were popular in the Sunland-Tujunga area of the council district, observers said.