Half of the politicians looking to fill Sen. Ricardo Lara’s seat are from Long Beach • Long Beach Post

With state Sen. Ricardo Lara scheduled to be sworn in as California’s insurance commissioner next month, the candidate likely to replace him may be coming from Long Beach—where nearly half of the candidates who have announced their intent to run are city politicians.

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At the forefront of the candidate pool is Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, who represents the 1st District in Downtown, West and Central Long Beach. She has represented the district since 2014 and was automatically re-elected this year after running unopposed.

Gonzalez announced that she was running for District 33 of the State Senate last week, also revealing that she had Lara’s endorsement. Earlier this week, Mayor Robert Garcia announced his endorsement of Gonzalez as well.

Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez announces bid for Lara’s state Senate seat with his blessing

While political observers previously speculated that Councilman Rex Richardson, who represents North Long Beach, could have been a viable candidate as well, Gonzalez today announced that he would head her team as campaign chair.

“Lena represents a new future for Long Beach and every city in the 33rd Senate District,” Richardson said in a statement. “Her dynamic vision and passion for public service will make her an effective leader in Sacramento and strong voice for working families.”

According to the Secretary of State’s website, 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga and 8th District Councilman Al Austin have already filed paperwork announcing their intent to run for the seat. Bonnie Lowenthal, a former Long Beach councilwoman and Assembly member, also filed paperwork.

Austin declined to comment and Uranga could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Lowenthal clarified that she does not plan to run for the state Senate seat, saying the paperwork filed with the Secretary of State is that of a former campaign committee.

What Sen. Ricardo Lara’s open seat could mean for Long Beach politics

Other candidates who have shown interest include politicians in the southeast region: Bell councilmembers Ali Saleh and Ana Maria Quintana, Lynwood Councilman Jose Solache and Central Valley Water District member Leticia Vasquez-Wilson.

District 33 includes cities and communities of Cudahy, Bell, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Maywood, Signal Hill, Paramount, South Gate, Vernon, Walnut Park, Huntington Park, and most of Long Beach with portions of the cities of Lakewood and Los Angeles.

Since a special election has not been called yet—a proclamation from the governor must be issued 14 days after a seat is vacated—the paperwork candidates have filed is for the 2020 State Senate Race, the year Lara’s term would have been up.

Secretary of State officials said no deadline has been issued for when candidates must file their intent to run for the seat in 2020.

Lara is scheduled to be sworn in as insurance commissioner on Jan. 7.

Editor’s note: this story has been updated with a statement from Bonnie Lowenthal. 

Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.

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