- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 7, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Democrat Vanessa Delgado had a nearly 6-point lead over Republican Rita Topalian Tuesday night in a Southern California election to replace a state senator who resigned over sexual misconduct allegations.

Voters went to the polls in parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties in a special election to determine who will serve out the remaining months of former Sen. Tony Mendoza’s term. He resigned in February.

The LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk said Delgado had nearly 53 percent of the vote to Topalian‘s 47 percent with 133 of 412 precincts reporting.

With the Legislature already in the final weeks of its legislative session, it’s unclear when the winner of Tuesday’s election will be sworn in. The timing will depend on how close the election results are, said Lizelda Lopez, a spokeswoman for Senate Leader Toni Atkins.

In a unique twist, primary voters chose different Democrats during the June 5 primary, where both the special and regular elections appeared on the same ballot. That means Democrat Vanessa Delgado would only serve until November if she’s elected and won’t have a chance to serve a full term.

Topalian will also be on the ballot in November, when she’ll face a different Democrat: Bob Archuleta.

Roughly half the district’s voters are Democrats, while just more than 20 percent are registered with the GOP. But Republicans believe they have a shot at the seat, in part because Topalian is the only candidate who could serve both the remainder of the current term and the next term.

“It’s a longshot, but we do have a shot,” said Topalian, a businesswoman who says she’s particularly concerned about wasteful spending in California.

Delgado said she plans to be sworn in as state senator if she wins. She is still working to determine whether she can keep her city government role in Montebello, where she serves as mayor.

Even though her Senate term would be short, she says she would focus on securing much needed resources for her district, which has lacked representation since Mendoza resigned.

The Legislature’s session concludes at the end of August.

In both primaries, Topalian secured roughly 29,000 votes while Delgado secured nearly 19,000. Archuleta won fewer than 14,000 votes in the special election primary but more than 20,000 in the general election. Nearly 2,500 more people voted in the regular election than the special, although both appeared on the same ballot.

Residents have expressed confusion about the primary, when ballots included both the special primary election and the regular primary, Topalian said.

“I’m hearing from some very experienced voters that they didn’t realize they have to vote twice,” Delgado said.

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