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51st Assembly District: Polls open in LA race to replace Jimmy Gomez

In this Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, photo, Luis Lopez, candidate for the California State, Assembly District 51, calls voters at his campaign's headquarters in Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles. Lopez is running in the special election in Los Angeles to replace Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34). Thirteen candidates are competing in Tuesday's Oct. 3, special primary election for a Los Angeles seat in the California Assembly. Ten are Democrats, making the party likely to hold a position that puts them one member over the supermajority threshold Democrats hold in both of California's legislative chamber. Damian Dovarganes/AP

Polls have opened in the wide-open contest to replace former Los Angeles Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who resigned after being elected to Congress in the 34th District.

Thirteen candidates are running in the special primary election, part of a chain reaction triggered by Xavier Becerra’s appointment as California attorney general. Gomez ran a successful bid to replace Becerra, which in turn left his own seat vacant.

If none of the candidates receive more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will head to a general election runoff on December 5.

“There is a lot of voter fatigue,” Democrat Wendy Carrillo, one of the candidates, told the Associated Press recently. “It’s going to take a small number of people to determine who will make it into the top two.”

The 51st Assembly District covers portions of northeast and east Los Angeles. The district is solidly Democratic, with one of the largest Latino populations among the state’s 80 Assembly districts, according to AP. It also has a sizeable LGBT community. A Democratic victory here would give the party 55 Assembly seats, further solidifying its supermajority.

Carrillo was endorsed by the legislative Women's Caucus and Emily's List, an organization that backs Democratic women.

Equality California endorsed four candidates for their support of LGBT issues: Luis Lopez, Alex de Ocampo and David Vela — all gay men — and Mark Vargas, which the group calls a strong ally of the LGBT community.

Other candidates include Democrats Ron Birnbaum, a doctor; Mike Fong, a Los Angeles Community College District board member; Mario Olmos, who does nonprofit work; and Barbara Torres, a union advocate. Libertarian Andrew Aguero, Peace and Freedom Party member John Prysner, and Patrick Koppula, who lists no party preference, will also be on the ballot.

Voters can find their polling place by texting “VOTE” or “VOTO” to 468683, visiting lavote.net, checking the back of their sample ballots or by calling (800) 815–2666.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

If you have a vote-by-mail ballot but forgot to send it in, you can drop it off at any polling place.