Greg Hill, a Republican and former Redondo Beach mayor, announced Friday, August 12th, that he is dropping out of the race for the California State Assembly 53rd District seat left open when Assemblymember Mike Gordon died in June of complications from a brain tumor.
A special election Tuesday, September 13th, to fill the vacancy will be an open primary that allows voters to vote for any candidate on the ballot regardless of party affiliation.
If no candidate wins 50 percent plus one vote in the primary, the top candidate from each political party will compete in a runoff held in conjunction with the statewide special election Tuesday, November 8th.
Gordon, a Democrat and former mayor of El Segundo, defeated Hill in last year’s campaign for the 53rd District seat.
The 53rd District extends from West Los Angeles to Lomita.
“The Democrats united behind a single candidate, while Republicans are faced with an expensive intra-party fight,” Hill said.
The lone Democrat candidate in the 53rd Assembly District race is Torrance City Councilman Ted Lieu.
Lieu served as Gordon’s campaign manager last year.
Political analysts claim that Democrat Party leaders convinced Manhattan Beach City Councilman Jim Aldinger — who pulled nomination papers for the race — not to go forward with his campaign so that only one Democrat would be in the race.
“I felt very strongly that I could have won in a straight-up battle against a Democrat challenger,” Hill said.
“When it became apparent that the Democrats had succeeded in fielding a single candidate and we had four, that simply gave the other party too much of a head start for a shortened special election.”
The three Republican candidates who are continuing with their campaigns include:
– Mary Jo Ford, an anesthesiologist from Manhattan Beach who owns a private practice in pain management;
– Paul Nowatka, a Torrance City Councilman and retired Torrance Police Department lieutenant; and
– Paul Whitehead, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher from Venice who was a paid staff member on George Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign.
James Smith, a community labor organizer from Venice and former treasurer of the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council, is campaigning on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.
Hill said other factors in his decision to drop out of the race include his pending wedding and that local Republicans may not be able to afford primary and runoff campaigns.
“I am not willing to put my fiancÈe and myself through a potentially bruising primary fight,” Hill said. “And the simple fact is that Republicans cannot afford a primary shoot-out and expect to be competitive in the runoff.”
Ford said she wishes Hill well.
“Greg Hill demonstrated his commitment to our South Bay communities when he served as mayor and councilman of Redondo Beach,” Ford said.
“With his upcoming marriage, I’m sure he felt it wasn’t the time to be burdened with the obligations of an election campaign.
“I wish Greg the very best of luck in the future,” she said.
Hill has not yet given an endorsement to any of the remaining Republican candidates.
He said he wants to speak to each of them individually.
He hopes they will be able to promote a unified Republican campaign.
“I couldn’t do that [make an endorsement] as long as it appeared self-serving,” Hill said. “So I decided to take my personal interests out of the equation and urge the remaining candidates to consider what is best for the party.”
Ford has emerged as the Republican frontrunner after receiving major endorsements from Republican Party leaders in Sacra- mento.
Former State Senator and Assemblymember Jim Brulte, Assembly Assistant Leaders George Plescia and Sharon Runner, and Assembly Republican Whip Mimi Walters publicly support Ford.
“Dr. Ford is not a politician, but a successful and smart businesswoman who will help solve California’s problems without raising taxes,” Brulte said.
“These Republican members are widely respected by their legislative colleagues and their strong endorsement will dramatically help as Mary Jo continues to build a winning coalition,” said Ford’s campaign manager Paul Hegyi. “Dr. Ford clearly has the momentum in this race.”