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SD-37 Special Election Set for March 17, Run-Off for May 19

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 14, 2015

Map of the 37th Senate DistrictGovernor Jerry Brown has finally called the special election for the 37th Senate District to complete the term of now-Congresswoman Mimi Walters (and the 7th and 21st Senate Districts to complete the terms of now-Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier of the Bay Area and Steve Knight of the Antelope Valley).

The primary will be on Tuesday, March 17.  Sadly for those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, California Elections Code Section 12288 prohibits bars and pubs from hosting polling places and also prohibits polling places from having any alcohol “sold or dispensed while the polls are open.”

(However, I imagine few would be surprised if the respective campaigns’ Election Night parties had St. Patrick’s Day themes.)

If a candidate wins a majority of the votes, that person will take office after the primary.  If no candidate wins a majority of the votes on March 17, then a run-off election will be held Tuesday, May 19. Absentee ballots for the primary will start arriving in voters’ homes in just over a month from now.

Candidate filing is now open and will close on Friday, January 23.

The two announced candidates are both Republicans:

  • Assemblyman Don Wagner, who currently represents the six of the eleven SD-37 cities since AD-68 comprises the eastern half of SD-37 (Anaheim Hills, Orange, Villa Park, Tustin, Irvine, and Lake Forest)
  • Former Supervisor John Moorlach, who previously represented three of the eleven SD-37 cities in his Supervisorial district (southern Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, and Newport Beach)

Before the 2012 redistricting shifted his Assembly district inland, Wagner represented three other cities now in SD-37: Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, and Newport Beach (in addition to Tustin, Irvine, and Lake Forest).  Before his 2006 bid for Supervisor, Moorlach held Countywide office as Treasurer-Tax Collector.

No Democrat has announced, though it is widely expected a Democrat will run.

If any state political party wants to have its endorsement listed in the sample ballot, the deadline for the state parties to submit their endorsement to the County Registrar is January 23 – the same day candidate filing closes.

The first campaign finance numbers will come out the first week of February.  Neither Wagner nor Moorlach had any substantive amount of money in their Senate warchests when the last campaign finance numbers came out in October.

However, Wagner has nearly a quarter-million dollars in his Assembly account, of which at least 97% is transferable to his Senate account.  Moorlach has closed his Congressional account in December, transferring the remaining $8,618 to his Supervisorial account, which he closed weeks later, transferring the remaining $5,300 to his Senate account.

State legislative contribution limits increased from $4,100 to $4,200 on January 1.

To qualify for the ballot, a candidate must submit 40 valid signatures from registered voters in SD-37 along with a filing fee of $971.97 by Friday, January 23, though a candidate who submits 161 signatures by Friday, January 16, can wipe out the filing fee.  The candidate statement costs a whopping $5,376 though.

(For those of you wondering, while Prop 14 does force November run-offs in regular elections even if a candidate breaks 50% in the June primary, Prop 14 does not require run-offs in special elections if a candidate breaks 50%.)

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