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Governor Gavin Newsom. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Vacated Seats, Appointments Create A Large Special Election Field in 2021

A special recall election may be among the special elections facing California voters next year

By Evan Symon, December 23, 2020 6:07 am

After the elevation of Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to the respective Senator and Secretary of State positions on Tuesday by Governor Gavin Newsom, the number of special election races in California next year have grown and may even grow larger dependent on remaining appointments and signature gatherings.

Senator Holly J. Mitchell. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

The first special election race had final details confirmed by Governor Newsom on Tuesday. A vacancy in the 30th State Senate District, caused by former Senator Holly Mitchell leaving the position after being elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, is set to take place on May 4th, with a primary planned for March. While the LA District is among the most Democratically-registered districts in the state, both Republicans and Democrats have registered. The frontrunner is Mitchell’s hand-picked successor, Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles). If she is voted in on election day, her Assembly seat would then be open, spurring another special election.

Another open race in the 79th Assembly District, which will most likely be open soon due to current Assemblywoman Weber being chosen as the new Secretary of State in Sacramento. As of yet, no dates have been chosen for the election, nor have any candidates come forward. However, more news on this is expected once the Assemblywoman is confirmed.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra may also be opening up a new race following his likely departure as the new Health and Human Services Secretary next year. Governor Newsom has yet to appoint someone to fill the slot, but with many likely candidates currently holding elected positions, his choice may bring on another special election.

More possibilities are also likely in 2021. Other Californians could be tapped for other Biden administration roles, with Newsom himself facing the strong possibility of a recall election next year.

The growing number of special elections have begun to concern some political experts, who have noted that the GOP could take advantage of a more open field.

“Democrats have to be worried about this,” explained Washington-based election advisor Stan Taney. “That open state Senate seat is a Democratic lock, but the other ones opening up should be a concern. San Diego is by no means safe, and that’s where the Assembly seat is opening up. And Newsom has to be careful about his AG selection, because that could backfire if he picks someone from a swing district or in a race where a Republican can win.

“By far the biggest threat is Newsom being recalled. It has happened before with Gray Davis, and there are many gunning for that that position should an election come up.

“It will be an unusually busy odd-numbered election year in California, and we’re seeing shades of 2003 already coming up.”

Further special election dates are expected to be announced soon.

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