Local News

Jun 21, 2010 2:29 PM by Ariel Wesler

Special election has high stakes for California politics

Voters will soon decide who should fill Abel Maldonado's 15th Senate seat. It's a hotly contested race between Republican Sam Blakeslee from San Luis Obispo and Democrat John Laird from Santa Cruz with a significant impact. A win for Laird would put the Democrats within one seat of having a super majority in the state Senate, giving them the upper hand when passing legislation like budgets and new taxes.

The 15th District runs along hundreds of miles of California coastline, which is why offshore drilling is a primary issue. Laird has bashed Blakeslee's past as a former Exxon employee with ties to big oil. Meanwhile, Laird's opponents criticize his record of supporting thousands of dollars in tax hikes and contributing to the budget crisis.

Right now, Democrats hold a registration advantage over Republicans by about six percent, but low turnout, common in special elections, often favors the GOP.

If neither candidate gets more than 50 percent of tomorrow's vote, a special general election will be held August 17.

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