Candidates Jump in Game Of Political Musical Chairs

By Gene Cubbison
|  Friday, Jan 4, 2013  |  Updated 10:01 PM PDT
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SD Explained: Special Elections

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Candidates Jump in Game of Political Musical Chairs

The 2012 election cycle may be history, but thanks to the boundless ambition of politicians, another cycle is just now getting under way here in San Diego. NBC 7's Gene Cubbison reports.

SD Explained: Special Elections

We teamed up with Voice of San Diego to explain some of the special elections that will send voters back to the polls soon. Get more from voiceofsandiego.org here.
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The 2012 election cycle may be history.

But thanks to the boundless ambition of politicians, another cycle is just now getting under way here in San Diego.

Voters in two state legislative districts and a San Diego City Council district are looking at the prospect of special elections to fill vacant seats.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Filner's move to the San Diego mayor's office opened up his 51st District Congressional seat, to which Juan Vargas was sworn in Thursday after comfortably winning election in November.

Now, Vargas’ 40th State Senate seat is vacant – and Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-80th Dist.) is aiming to fill it.

"Running for Senate gives me the opportunity to serve a much bigger community,” Hueso told dozens of supporters at a Friday morning rally, “and to stand on a larger stage, and to get more community support for some of our ideas."

Hueso announced his candidacy at Mercado del Barrio Plaza -- part of a newly opened Barrio Logan redevelopment project in Hueso's former Council district that he himself championed.

Also on hand were some prominent South Bay Republican political and business leaders, Mayor Filner, and Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, powerful head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council

Gonzalez already is raising money to run for Hueso’s Assembly seat, should he win the special election in Vargas' former 40th state Senate District.

She may face fellow Democrat Steve Castaneda, a former two-term Chula Vista City Councilman.

The Republicans, meantime, are vowing to run a challenger against Hueso.

“You can count on it,” local GOP chairman Tony Krvaric said in an email to NBC 7. “Not able to discuss at this time.”

The Democrats really aren't too concerned about that, given the huge voter registration advantage their party holds in the 40th Senate district.

"I don't want to forecast too much, but in politics we call this a cakewalk,” said Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party. “We’re pretty optimistic about this and, frankly, the successive election in the 80th Assembly District to fill Ben's vacancy that will then be created."

Whatever the political odds in his favor, and the Democrats’ corner on power in Sacramento, Hueso is touting bipartisan lawmaking.

"The best bills are bipartisan,” Hueso said in a post-rally interview. “And those are the ones that tend to stand up to the test of time."

Gonzalez also is talking up the idea of bipartisanship.

"We can work together for a better community, and I think that's what it's going to take,” she told NBC 7. “ Those Republicans, I think, who are sick of this ideological fight say 'How do we get together and move our agenda forward that benefits our entire community?’"

A special election in the 40th Senate district, still yet to be called by Gov. Brown, is expected to be held in about four months

And on Monday, the San Diego City Council will set a special election within three months to fill the 4th District seat Tony Young left open with his departure to run the local Red Cross.

Eleven people have filed notices of intention to seek the office.

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