Gulf oil disaster roils Calif. legislative race

California State Assembly Republican Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) is under fire for his past support for a limited expansion of offshore oil drilling.
California State Assembly Republican Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) is under fire for his past support for a limited expansion of offshore oil drilling. Max Whittaker/Getty Images

The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is spilling into a special election along California's central coast that could help shift the balance of power in the state Senate.

Democrats are playing up Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee's past as an Exxon employee and his support for a limited expansion of offshore oil drilling.

Meanwhile, Republicans warn that electing former Assemblyman John Laird would bring Democrats within a single vote of the two-thirds majority they need to pass tax increases through the Senate.

If neither wins more than 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, they will meet again in an August runoff.

The 15th Senate District seat represents parts of five coastal counties. It opened in April when former state senator Abel Maldonado became lieutenant governor.

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