|(November 13, 2018, 6:20 p.m.) -- State Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) has widened his lead over opponent Steve Poizner (Ind.) in the statewide race for Insurance Commissioner, a race closely watched locally because it could trigger political moves by some inside Long Beach City Hall.
In the Secretary of State's vote total as of November 13 at 12:50 p.m., Lara has 51.2% (4,074,517 votes) and Poizner has 48.8% (3,890,476 votes.) In the election night tally (Nov. 6-7), Lara led with 50.8% to 49.2% by a slim 116,000+ votes
If Senator Lara is elected state Insurance Commissioner, it could trigger a number of political scenarios if politically ambitious incumbent(s) at Long Beach City Hall seek to fill Lara's vacated LB-Huntington Park state Senate seat.
In March, 2017, Lara publicly announced his candidacy and by April 2017, 8th dist. Councilman Al Austin acknowledged to LBREPORT.com that he was "contemplating a run for state Senate in 2020 or possibly sooner" while adding that he had "not made a public announcement or opened a committee." Austin's announcement made perfect political sense, since he would have to wage a write-in if he sought a third City Council term. In the second half of 2017, Austin filed paperwork creating "Al Austin for Senate 2020" and began raising money. In December 2017, he'd collected a number of contributions for a possible state Senate run (the largest from Riverwalk Builder, LLC: for $4,400) and continued collecting sums into March 2018.
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However, with the passage of Measure BBB on November 6, Councilman Austin can now seek a third term without waging a write-in.
If Austin decides to seek a third Council term and not pursue the state Senate seat, it would clear the way for speculated potential candidates Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and/or Roberto Uranga to enter the race. If Gonzalez or Uranga are elected to the state Senate in a special election in the demographically Hispanic/Latino dominant state Senate district (in which Long Beach is the single largest city), it would create a LB City Council vacancy with LB no-runoff/winner-take-all special election for a new 1st district or 7th district Council representative.
LBREPORT.com is aware of a separate state Senate 2020 campaign committee created in 2017 by former Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (who was muscled out of the 2012 state Senate race by Lara.) However in May 2017, Mayor Garcia chose Lowenthal for LB's Harbor Commission, a political plum that includes multiple perks and avoids re-entering the Sacramento political pressure cooker.
There's also the possibility that Garcia, a close political ally of Lara, might himself seek Lara's Senate seat.
On the other hand, Garcia has also been a politcal supporter of now-incoming Governor Newsom, who might offer Garcia some appointment in his administration or perhaps appoint him to the Coastal Commission (where a few years ago, state law was changed in a way now enabling Garcia to hold that position as Mayor.)
Or Congressman Alan Lowenthal might decide to enjoy a final term in the leadership of a Dem House majority and then clear the way for Garcia to ride a speculated 2020 "blue wave" into DC.
If Garcia does plan to exit for those reasons or others (during his re-election cycle, he repeatedly refused to commit to completing his second term), it could clear the way for (speculation) Councilman Rex Richardson and/or Councilwoman Suzie Price and/or Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell to run for Mayor.
Nov. 16: Text amended to indicate that in a state legislative special election, if no candidate receives a majority, the top two finishers advance to a runoff.
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