Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Dec. 17 that the special election dates have been set for the state Senate 28th District seat.

The primary election will be held Feb. 15 and the general election two months later on April 19.

The special election is being held due to the passing of state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who died Oct. 20 from complications of an abdominal blood clot weeks before the November general election. Oropeza, who served two terms in the Senate, remained on the ballot and won overwhelmingly, but her seat will remain vacant until after the April election.

Former state Assemblyman Ted Lieu is viewed by many as the frontrunner in the election. Lieu served two terms in the Assembly and was termed out this year.

“California is faced with enormous challenges. I truly feel I can hit the ground running for the people of Senate District 28 and the people of California,” said Lieu, who announced his bid for Oropeza’s seat last month. “In Sen. Oropeza, I lost a friend and California lost a true leader. If elected, I will continue to represent the many communities of her Senate district with passion and a dedication to public service.”

Lieu, who represented the 53rd Assembly District, has a built-in advantage going into the election: name recognition. His former coastal district includes Marina del Rey, Westchester, Playa del Rey and Venice. The 28th Senate District includes all of those communities, as well as Mar Vista and Del Rey.

It is also largely a Democratic district and Lieu, a Democrat who lives in Torrance, has strong ties to the South Bay, which also lies in Oropeza’s district.

Lieu also has lined up early support among local elected leaders. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl is backing the former assemblyman, as well as City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who once considered entering the race.

Republican John Stammreich, who ran against Oropeza in November, announced Nov. 6 on his Web site that he would not enter into the next election cycle against Lieu or any other potential candidate.

“After discussing the opportunities available to me with supporters at the national, state and local levels, I have decided to withdraw from the upcoming special election for the 28th state Senate District and focus on the upcoming redistricting of the congressional and legislative seats throughout the state of California to determine my next personal campaign,” Stammreich wrote.

The deadline for candidates to announce their intentions of entering the race is Friday, Dec. 31.

Additional information about the special election can be found at the California Secretary of State’s Web site at:

www.sos.ca.gov/election/Special/sd28.

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