The Daily Breeze - Nick Green
Democrat Al Muratsuchi narrowly edged Republican incumbent David Hadley at the polls Tuesday, but the two are headed to a general election reprise of their fierce election battle two years ago for the 66th Assembly District.
Final, unofficial returns early today showed Muratsuchi with 48.4 percent of the vote to Hadley’s 45.4 percent in a contest closely watched statewide, much as it was two years ago.
Unknown Democrat Mike Madrigal had just 6.1 percent of the vote.
“Given that there are two Democrats in the race, we have a lot of reason to be optimistic looking forward to November,” Muratsuchi said.
The top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s primary — regardless of party affiliation — qualify for the ballot this fall. That means Hadley and Muratsuchi are headed for a titanic — and likely expensive — rematch of their 2014 battle.
“I’m really pleased with the results we’ve got so far,” Hadley said, adding he expected to come in second. “There was a lot more Democrat interest in this June election than Republican interest, so the absentee ballots skewed much more Democratic than they had in 2014.
“It demonstrates I’ve successfully engaged with a lot of Democrat and independent voters in the district who are more interested in common sense than the partisan registration of the candidates they are evaluating.
Two years ago, Hadley upset incumbent Muratsuchi by about 700 votes in the purple district that leans Democratic, making him the first South Bay Republican elected to the state Legislature since Steve Kuykendall won an Assembly seat in 1998.
Both parties spent heavily in 2014 in an effort to capture the seat and that, too, is expected to occur yet again with special interests throwing money at the race on both sides, with each candidate portraying his opponent as an extremist in the centrist South Bay.
Muratsuchi, a former Torrance school board member, was expected to have a bigger advantage than he did two years ago against the Manhattan Beach businessman because the presidential primary attracted a much larger voter turnout of Democrats than in the off-year election of 2014.
Two years ago, Hadley’s victory broke the Democratic supermajority in the Assembly, which allows the lower house of the Legislature to raise taxes and pass certain measures without GOP support.
That will not be on the line again this fall.
The 66th Assembly District stretches along the South Bay coast from Manhattan Beach to the Palos Verdes Peninsula