Deceased Democrat Defeats Republican for State Senate Seat

Special election expected within the next three to four months.

By Erin Richards
|  Thursday, Nov 4, 2010  |  Updated 6:48 AM PDT
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It happens from time to time. A candidate wins an election after passing away. In <a title=Jenny Oropeza's case, she got some help that her opponent thinks went too far." />

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It happens from time to time. A candidate wins an election after passing away. In Jenny Oropeza's case, she got some help that her opponent thinks went too far.

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With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, deceased candidate, Democrat Jenny Oropeza, defeated Republican John Stammreich in the race for State Senate in the 28th district.

Oropeza, 53, died on Oct. 20. Because her death was within 10 days of the election, her name remained on the ballot.

The governor now has two weeks to declare her seat empty, and schedule a special election within three to four months. This allows Democrats a chance to find a new candidate to run for Oropeza's seat.

A week after her death, Democrats sent out mailers to residents, calling for voters to still reelect Oropeza. The mailers featured Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Democratic Party general counsel Martha Escutia.

Republicans responded to the mailers, filing a complaint that the pamphlets were too similar to official election documents and were confusing voters, violating California law. Stammreich and GOP Chairman Ron Nehring filed the complaint.

"The Republicans are trying to take unfair advantage of Jenny's tragedy," the mailer reads, according to the Los Angeles Times. "They suggest that voting for Jenny will only result in a costly Special Election. I am asking you to vote for Jenny Oropeza. If a Special Election is called in a few months, you'll have the chance to thoughtfully elect your Senator for a new four-year term."

"This is wrong," Stammreich told the Daily Breeze. "This is the chief elections officer who is supposed to be safeguarding the election process. Instead, she has given her name and her office to an illegal attempt to sway this election."

Democrats deny that the mailers could be construed as official documents, citing that it was made clear that they were paid for by the California Democratic Party.

The 28th district includes parts of Los Angeles, Long Beach and the South Bay. The district is largely Democratic. 

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