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« Changing PA | Blog Home Page | WH Race Messes With Primaries »

Special In CA Favors Dems

Voters in California today head to the polls to select a replacement for the late Rep. Tom Lantos, who died in February after a battle with cancer. That race is unlikely to make national news, as former State Senator Jackie Speier, a Democrat, is expected to easily carry the seat, based just south of San Francisco, as Roll Call's David Drucker writes.

The district includes the southwest part of San Francisco and several counties along the coast, and though it was once a base from which California Republicans could build around the Bay Area, it is now solidly Democratic. Lantos won his initial election, in 1980, with 46% of the vote and his re-election bid with 57%. Since then, he never dipped below 65%. Democratic presidential nominees carried the seat with 67% in 2000 and 72% in 2004.

Speier, who was forced out of the legislature by term limits, came within three points of securing the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor that year, narrowly losing to now-LG John Garamendi. She faces health official Michelle McMurry, a Democrat, and former Public Utilities Commissioner Greg Conlon and economist Mike Moloney, both Republicans. Moloney took 24% of the vote against Lantos in 2006.

Once an aide to the late Rep. Leo Ryan, Speier was wounded when the congressman led a delegation to Jonestown, the cult colony in Guyana in 1978. Ryan was replaced in a special election by a Republican, who in turn lost to Lantos in 1980. Speier had already planned to run for the seat before Lantos announced he would retire, and was touting a poll showing her ahead of the incumbent by a wide margin.