The CA SD-26 race figured to be a quiet affair. It was similar to the pre-redistricting 28th district, one won in 2011 by Democrat Ted Lieu. Lieu didn't have an opponent That all changed when Lieu decided last week to run for congress. So far only Lieu and Wendy Greuel have committed to running for Henry Waxman's 33rd district. The 26th state senate district is distinctly more popular.
Contraception activist Sandra Fluke decided against running for congress and instead will run for the state senate. Her path to congress was going to be difficult, as she would've run against two well-funded, well-known, well-connected, popular candidates who know how to run campaigns. The state senate race won't have heavy hitters like them. What it will have are, currently, four Democrats Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District member Ben Allen, former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and LGBT advocate Vito Imbasciani. Butler is a progressive who managed to lose a Santa Monica based assembly district to the more moderate mayor of Santa Monica. I've never heard of the other two, but it seems they are likely all staking out Fluke's territory on the progressive left and the Westside.
The district was won by Jerry Brown 2010 with 62% of the two party vote. In CA-33, by comparison, he took 58% of the two party vote. So while it's a safe Democratic district, it's not as heavily a Democratic district as others in L.A. With four candidates on the far left and Westside, there's plenty of room for one additional candidate. Any Republican would get the most votes in the June primary. In the absence of one, a moderate South bay Democrat would finish with the top spot.
And there'a a candidate that fits that description to a "T." That's assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who is both from the South Bay and more moderate. Without a Republican in the race, Muratsuchi would not only finish first in the primary but he'd beat the second place finisher in a one-on-one match-up. Wait a second, I hear you saying. Wouldn't the most liberal Democrat win in this district? Not in Top Two, he or she wouldn't. A Top Two match-up between two Democrats would probably net Muratsuchi 80-90% of the not insignificant vote that'd normally go to a Republican. He'd only need about a third of the left leaning vote to win. That wouldn't be a problem for an incumbent Democratic Assemblyman.