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As expected, Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, cruised to victory in a special election to fill a Senate seat former senator Curren Price vacated when he moved to the Los Angeles city council.

Mitchell collected a resounding 80 percent of the vote, crushing fellow Democrat Mervin Evans. Her move to the state Senate could rekindle speculation of her becoming the next Senate president pro tem after current President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, terms out next year.

Returns from the 45th Assembly District reflected a far more crowded field. In the race to replace former Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, who like Price traded a spot in the state Legislature for a seat on the L.A. city council, Democrat Matt Dababneh and Republican Susan Shelley emerged as the top two vote-getters in a field of 11.

Both secured about a quarter of the vote. Dababneh, an aide to Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, bested several other Democrats. Shelley, a constitutional scholar, easily eclipsed fellow Republican Chris Kolski.

Assuming those results hold, the two will face off in a November 19 general election.

Democrats now hold 52 seats in the Assembly: two short of what they need for a supermajority. They could regain one in a week, when Republican-turned-independent Ontario mayor Paul Leon and Democrat Freddie Rodriguez vie for a 52nd Assembly District seat Norma Torres left to seek a state Senate post.

If Rodriguez prevails and Dababneh defeats Shelley in the San Fernando Valley runoff, Democrats will regain their two-thirds margin in the lower house when lawmakers reconvene in January. With Mitchell's win, Democrats hold 28 of 40 seats in the Senate, one more than a supermajority.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, talks during a Legislative informational hearing on gun laws at the State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.



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