Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

All eyes are on the Central Coast today for the 15th Senate District special election.

The main match-up is between GOP Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee and former Democratic Assemblyman John Laird.

Two other candidates -- Libertarian Mark Hinkle and Independent Jim Fitzgerald -- are also running to fill the seat vacated by Republican Abel Maldonado's lieutenant governor confirmation.

The contest has been one of the hottest races of the cycle -- largely because a Laird win would bring Democrats within one seat of a two-thirds majority in the upper house. Business-backed groups and labor organizations have poured millions into the race to support their respective candidate.

Despite Democrats' six-point registration advantage in the district, Blakeslee topped Laird by nearly eight percentage points in the June 22 special primary, less than one percentage point shy of winning the election outright.

Democrats have upped the ante in recent weeks in hopes of increasing Democratic turnout, canvassing precincts and sending mailers featuring President Barack Obama's endorsement.

Polls close tonight at 8 p.m. You can track the returns here.

Of course, most of the votes have likely already been cast. In the June 22 primary, more than 75 percent of the ballots were vote-by-mail.

SENATE DISTRICT 1: Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, officially throws his hat in the ring for the 1st Senate District special election today. Niello will make the announcement during tonight's Republicans of River City. Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, and Rancho Cordova Mayor Ken Cooley, a Democrat, are also running in the Nov. 2 primary to replace late Sen. Dave Cox, who died in July at age 72. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top vote-getter from each party moves on to a Jan. 4 run-off. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the studios of KVIE, Channel 6.

GOVERNOR: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger takes part today in the launch of the California Telehealth Network, an initiative to expand access to medical information to rural and impoverished communities using broadband technology. Schwarzenegger and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra take part in a noon demonstration of a network linking the U.C. Davis Cancer Center with three medical centers throughout the state. "California is always leading the way with the most innovative and new technology that is changing the future. And, what we are launching today is a new era for health care," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

SENATE 2010: Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is in Sacramento to talk about tax policy with Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal and National Tax-Limitation Committee Founder and President Lew Uhler. The three will hold a 1:30 pm. presser at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, 921 11th St., Suite 1201.

PROPOSITION 14: Proponents of a lawsuit to block the top-two primary system approved by Proposition 14 are touting their proposals to change the implementation of the new system. The suit alleges that Senate Bill 6, accompanying legislation to enact the new primary system, disenfranchises voters and minor party candidates. Plaintiff Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access news, and Stop Top Two founder Christina Tobin will be on hand for the 10:30 a.m. news conference at the Capitol's south steps.

SUITING UP: Democratic legislative leaders Darrell Steinberg and John A. Pérez are helping Men's Wearhouse kick off a clothing drive to collect business attire for out-of-work Californians. Click here for more details on the dapper donations.



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